My Hero, My Friend

One of the girls writes about Gwen’s Girls Founder, Gwen Elliott.

When I was 8 yrs old my grandma took me to a support meeting at the Hosanna House. I can remember that was the first time I met a lady that sort of reminded me of my great – grand mom. She was chubby and had gray hair. I said to myself “oh” another person watching me and telling me what to do. Well she looked very strict to me and my next thought was “I’m in trouble.” Then she came over to me and had the most prettiest white teeth and the most beautiful smile that I had ever seen on an older woman. The look in her eyes showed me that she cared about little kids just like my great – grandma.

I started reading about her. I remember when she died I asked my grandma if I could I go see her at the funeral home, my grandma was surprised because I didn’t even like funerals and I didn’t even go to my granddad’s funeral but, I had to go see Ms. Gwen.

She has inspired me to always have self esteem. I didn’t know what it meant at 8 yrs old; but now I know she wanted me and all girls to feel good about ourselves. Maybe we are having trouble growing up but, she started an agency to help us grow up with respect for ourselves and others. Sometimes I think that I and Ms. Gwen went through the same situations growing up. I chose Ms. Elliott because she’s a warrior, an achiever, but most of all a role model to me.

Ms. Gwen Elliott was born June 1944 in Duquesne. At the age of 5 her mother died in a botched abortion but she didn’t find out what had happened to her mother until she was an adult. Ms. Gwen actively served her country in the Air Force and she left that uniform for another, a police uniform, in May of 1976.

She also was one of the first out of twelve women officers hired by Pittsburgh Police Department as well as the first female to ever achieve the rank of sergeant on the police force.

In the year of 1986 Ms. Gwen was promoted to Commander and was the first African American woman to attain that rank. Ms. Gwen had many goals. One of them was to stop crimes against women and children. After Ms. Gwen retired from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police she founded Gwen’s Girls.

In the year of 2002 Allegheny County Office of Children, Youth, and Families funded the creation of Gwen’s Girls. Ms. Gwen served on over 25 boards which included; National Organization of Black Women in Law Enforcement, NAACP, Freedom Unlimited, Woman’s Center, etc.

Ms. Gwen really cared for girls getting into trouble; girls that needed extra guidance. A place for girls’ voices to be heard which was named Gwen’s Girls. I feel great knowing that if she went through all of the hard things in life, I will try to follow her example and be the leader in my community. Gwen’s Girls program shows me how to believe in myself.

Some girls are ashamed to be a Gwen’s Girls but I am proud to be called a Gwen’s Girls because my hero has the same name that I like to represent. I will always remember her when I think I can’t achieve my goals. You have given me a great opportunity to be a leader such as you were.

by Janera