David and Jodie Bohner, who was representing the Fresno Chamber, walk through the new Pathway of Hope at Fresno State Friday. Photos by Frank Lopez
Written by Frank Lopez
Fresno State unveiled a landmark tribute to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault called the Pathway of Hope on April 26.
The lighted pathway sits in the wooded area by the fountain near the Kennel Bookstore and consists of a stone path, benches and a plaque that displays an explanation of the purpose of the pathway, as well as a poem.
The tribute is the product of Leadership Fresno’s Class 35, and Fresno State media and communications professor Jes Therkelsen.
Members of Leadership Fresno, professors, students, members of Fresno State’s student government and media were present to hear speeches from survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, their supporters as well as from those involved in the project.
The Fresno Chamber of Commerce runs the Leadership Fresno program, and its students select a project for each cohort that will affect the community in a significant way.
“One thing that really stood out in our minds was domestic violence and sexual assault,” said Sarah Fraunheim, president of Class 35. “We didn’t know exactly what that was going to look like in the beginning, but we knew that as we started thinking about our project, that was definitely something that we wanted the project message to be surrounded by.”
In the week leading up to the unveiling, the Leadership Class produced informational segments that were aired ABC 30.
The Leadership Fresno Class 35 had each of the 24 students in the class raise $1,000 to fund the project.
Lisa Casarez, founder and CEO of Angels of Grace Family Foster Agency, spoke to the audience about her own experience in an abusive marriage, the death of a friend who was murdered by her own husband, and how becoming a student at Fresno State and help from the Marjaree Mason Center allowed her to start her life over.
“We have value in the people around us. We don’t realize that that smile, that that word of encouragement, that that place that you might be too busy to turn around and tell somebody that they have value, is so important,” Casarez said.
Dr. Francine Oputa, director of Fresno State’s Cross Cultural and Gender Center, read a prayer and there was a ribbon cutting to officially open the pathway.