How a cop, a magistrate and a former teacher inspired tears and cheers

A cop, a magistrate and a teacher inspired cheers and tears earlier this month in downtown Dayton.

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Each of the three was honored with an Artemis Center’s Peacekeeper Award at the organization’s annual Breaking the Cycle Fundraising Breakfast on Oct. 17 at Sinclair Community College.

Artemis helps combat domestic violence and supports victims and their families throughout the Dayton area.

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The Peacekeeper Award recognizes individuals and organizations for “significant contributions to a coordinated community response to domestic violence,” Artemis officials said.

WHIO-TV’s Gabrielle Enright emceed the breakfast.

Below are excerpts from her script about former teacher Todja Stirtmire,  Montgomery County Juvenile Court Magistrate Nikole Xarhoulacos and Dayton police Sgt. Gary Lowe.

Todja Stirtmire is being recognized for her tireless work with teens. She was nominated by Karen McQuery, Artemis Center's clinical director. Todja, or "Ms. T" as her students would call her, worked to create a safe and caring space at Mound Street Academy. During her work at the school, Ms. T was instrumental in bringing the "In Their Shoes" teen-dating violence program to the students who needed it the most.

This program enlightens students, teachers and staff on the incredibly difficult journey that teens experience when faced with dating violence. Ms. T would hand-pick students to attend the simulation each month. Inevitably, several students in each session would discuss their own personal experiences, and in some cases, they were able to be linked directly to Artemis services.

Throughout the discussions during the “In Their Shoes” program, Artemis advocates would ask students who they felt comfortable with to talk about issues they may be having. Students would mostly say they would go to their friends to discuss their problems, but there was also another answer that almost every student would give: “Ms. T.”

Her students trusted her. They knew she was there for them. There are too many kids in our community that don’t have a “Ms. T,” but if they did, think of all of the good that could happen, the lives that might be saved, and the violence that would be prevented. Thank you for the profound impact you’ve had on these students, and for the commitment you’ve shown to keeping them safe.

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Magistrate Xarhoulacos was nominated by Emily K., Artemis Center's advocate who specializes in working with Children's Services. Magistrate Xarhoulacos works in Family Treatment Court. She has been very supportive of Artemis Center and has shown a growing interest in how to best serve clients who have experienced domestic violence.

Taking the time to understand and make adjustments in the courtroom has created a much more comfortable environment for Artemis clients. Magistrate Xarhoulacos has received accolades for her routine mindfulness and has even cleared out a courtroom to make clients feel more comfortable. Taking a more progressive approach in her work, Magistrate Xarhoulacos is showing our community that she is committed to serving the people that live within it.

We are thankful for her support, her compassionate approach with our clients, and we look forward to seeing how she makes even more improvements to the court process for families in the Dayton community.

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Our final Peacekeeper Award recipient was nominated by Jane Keiffer and the entire Artemis Center staff. Sgt. Gary Lowe supervises the Special Victims Unit (SVU) of the Dayton Police Department, which is responsible for all domestic violence-related investigations, as well as other heinous crimes such as sexual assaults against women.

Sgt. Lowe works diligently day in and day out to not only reduce such crimes against women, but also to hold those people responsible for the violence against women accountable. Sgt. Lowe has been instrumental in looking at better ways in which the Dayton Police Department can be responsive to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, increase successful prosecutions of such cases and reduce repeat offenses by domestic batterers through focused deterrence.

Sgt. Lowe is also part of a group researching the viability of a Family Justice Center in the Dayton area to better serve both women and families dealing with domestic violence, sexual assault and other related issues.

Gary has been instrumental in helping create positive change for survivors in our community. Gary has always made himself available to Artemis staff and, on numerous occasions, he has helped Artemis staff a specific survivor’s situation, transportation, or a police report that needs written. He is willing to listen when something does not go well with a client’s experience.

Gary is warm and kind and is a wonderful human who sincerely cares about survivors’ safety. Sgt. Lowe is set to retire in January 2020, and his presence in the Dayton Police Department will be missed.

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