Recently, organizers presented a $9,000 check from this year’s events, held April 26-27, to Cheryl VanRegenmorter, wife of the late state Sen. William VanRegenmorter, and John Lazet, president of the Michigan Crime Victim Foundation.
William VanRegenmorter was the author of Michigan’s Crime Victim’s Right Act that served as a model for many states across the nation.
The Katty Shack events were created through the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office, victim advocate Joan Grillo and Natalie Kik-Brown, mother of Katherine Brown. Katherine “Katty” Brown was one of four people murdered Sept. 28, 2008, at a home in Wright Township. Also murdered that night were Sharmaine, Jeremy and Tyler Zimmer.
“It speaks to the memory of Katherine, Jeremy, Sharmaine and Tyler, that through the loss of their lives, we are able to help those who are in need,” Kik-Brown said. “Because of Sen. VanRegenmorter, and the foundation, we can help others.”
Grillo said that the money is used to help victim advocacy programs around the state. It has also paid for advocate dogs and is used to help victims of human trafficking.
Lazet said the money raised covers grants for victims who are in imminent danger of losing employment, health care, transportation or housing due to a crime.
“With the money they’ve raised, we’ve been able to place more than 20 advocate dogs,” he said.
The foundation pays for the days provided through a partnership with the K-9 Advocacy Program. The dogs are usually placed with a prosecuting attorney’s office or a children’s assessment center.
Lazet noted that following the Larry Nassar situation, Michigan State University requested an advocate dog from the foundation.
“These ladies saw a need,” Lazet said of Grillo and Kik-Brown. “They rang a bell and it resonated across Michigan. Now, well over 1,000 victims are helped every year.”
Kik-Brown said it’s rewarding and a comfort to her that the program is successful.