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Five Under 35: Nichole Griffith of Victim-Witness Assistance Ser - KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana

Five Under 35: Nichole Griffith of Victim-Witness Assistance Services

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Nichole Griffith, the director of Victim Witness Assistance Services Nichole Griffith, the director of Victim Witness Assistance Services
So far in 2017, Victim Witness Assistance Services has responded to nine after hours calls; six of those were sexual assault cases. So far in 2017, Victim Witness Assistance Services has responded to nine after hours calls; six of those were sexual assault cases.
GREAT FALLS -

Four years ago, KRTV anchor Shannon Newth started the "Five Under 35" awards as a way to encourage the community through recognizing those whose attitudes and actions are helping Great Falls grow and improve. As journalists, we want to be part of facilitating change and finding solutions for community issues, one of those being attracting and retaining young professionals.

More than 50 people submitted nominations of deserving individuals. A committee narrowed nominees down to the final five who not only are doing great things, but also have an infectious spirit and positive attitude about living and working in Great Falls.

Our first recipient this year is Nichole Griffith, the director of Victim-Witness Assistance Services.

Griffith has lived in Great Falls since she was four years old and has no intention of leaving. Growing up, she knew she just wanted to help people, and she is doing that in a big way, by giving crisis victims a voice.

"I'm just really passionate about making sure people have somebody to lean on and make sure they not having to go through horrible things alone," said Griffith.

Griffith, 35 years old, usually meets people on the worst day of their life.  As the director of Victim-Witness Assistance Services in Great Falls, she spends a lot of time in courtrooms, the emergency room, and the Child Advocacy Center in response to crises like homicide, suicide, sexual assault and child abuse.

"We want to be a strong support for them," said Griffith.

Providing that support goes far beyond the normal nine to five work day.  She's on call 24/7, because crisis doesn't come during a certain time frame.

So far in 2017, Victim Witness Assistance Services has responded to nine after hours calls; six of those were sexual assault cases. The emotional weight of dealing with and having a heart for crisis victims doesn't come without a toll.  Nichole is a strong support for those she help, but also relies on her small staff for when a situation becomes too much to bear alone.

Nichole makes an effort to not bring "work" home, where she spends time with her husband and two high school-aged children. However, one case particularly gripped her heart and she is now fostering a two-year-old she met through work.

Through her job, Griffith has a perspective on Great Falls that shapes how the community can improve, namely by providing more variety of things to do that doesn't involve drinking as a main aspect of the event.

Griffith shared, "when people are always going to events that are surrounding alcohol, that's where we are getting a lot of referrals because alcohol makes people do horrible things. Not always, but it happens. Probably 70 percent of our cases involve some kind of drugs or alcohol. That means somebody got hurt after drinking. I think if we had more things to do, more businesses, more events, something that isn't always surrounding alcohol…just giving people other things to do than get in trouble.  Great Falls is a great place, we just need to provide a little bit more."

She sees a lot of potential and opportunity for growth in her hometown, which she views as a strength.

Griffith is working one day at a time to help victims heal and provide a safe and caring environment for Great Falls residents.

"We get to see the end result, we walk with the victim to the end and see if they get their justice, whatever that means for them," said Griffith.

We will unveil a new Five Under 35 recipient each night on the 10pm news through Thursday.


Here are the 2016 recipients:

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