Like father, like daughter. Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award winner Jane Yorn received the city’s highest accolade 24 years after her dad, the late Mayor Paul Lindenmeyer, was the second recipient in 1990.
“I think it’s safe to say that Jane is most known for ... the vision to create Safe Passage, her 17-year support for Safe Passage and for her direct leadership ... as executive director for the last three years,” pointed out board President Dan Mattingly in his Jan. 30 introduction.
He defined the organization, which Yorn helped to establish around a kitchen table in 1997, as “dedicated to both eliminating the scourge of domestic violence,” and supporting its victims.
The nomination form, written by seven employees and volunteers, noted, “Since its opening, Safe Passage has grown and expanded services to meet the needs of the five counties it serves (Franklin, Ripley, Dearborn, Ohio and Switzerland). Over the past 10 years, more than 900 survivors have come to the shelter, over 3,000 individuals have received outreach services and Safe Passage has sponsored $49,300 in college scholarships to clients.
“In this past year alone, 835 individuals received support services, 797 youth engaged in school and teen dating violence programs, 6,239 attendees participated in community domestic violence education and training programs and Safe Passage was recognized as a ‘best practices’ service provider for its program and policy development and selected for a national grant to develop primary prevention initiatives.”
Mattingly contended that Yorn and the Safe Passage staff save lives and transform them, “because not only do Jane and her team help women who are victims of domestic violence get back on their feet – she also helps them both envision and realize more fulfilling lives free of abuse.”
According to the nominators, “Her tireless commitment to the organization is recognized by anyone who knows her ... She knows each client by name and their story. While she is empathetic and gentle, she is goal-oriented and determined.”
In addition to supporting Safe Passage, Yorn has had a successful career as a businesswoman and health care professional for over 30 years, Mattingly reported. “As if that wasn’t enough, during this same time period she has volunteered her time and talents to organizations within Batesville and the surrounding community that are simply too numerous to list here this evening.”
The honoree, also raised by her mom, the late Ruth Lindenmeyer, was married to her high school sweetheart, Jon, for 34 years before his sudden death five years ago. The lifelong Batesville area resident has three children (Jason “Jake” Yorn, Erin Ortiz and Elizabeth McDonald) and seven grandchildren – with triplets expected this summer.
Upon accepting her crystal plaque, the self-effacing Yorn praised past and current chamber honorees. “These are groups and individuals who have partnered with Safe Passage over the years.”
She observed, “This is a community filled with individuals who live lives of service and commitment and I have been blessed to have served side by side with many of you through church, school and community projects. It is a privilege to be here and to represent all those who strive to make Batesville a wonderful place to live ...”
Inspired by Yorn’s enthusiasm for the project, “those first board members sat in a cold, dark building with bats swooping overhead, crunching numbers and swearing that there would be no way we could fund a shelter and services for five counties – but they continued to roll up their sleeves, press forward and, with the help of strong city leaders, churches, businesses and friends, we are doing what seemed to be impossible at the time.”
She reflected, “I am grateful for those who – especially in the early days of Safe Passage – put up with a lot while this dream was being pursued. My then teenage daughters learned to take crisis calls because the hotline rang to our home phone!” She also remembered “my husband with his friends, who moved women and kids and furniture in the dark of night to bring them to safety.”
Yorn saluted the Batesville-based nonprofit’s “best of the best employee team ... Because of their skill and passion, in 2012, fewer than 8 percent of our clients returned to their abusers. Those are outcomes that are life changing.”
In addition to contributing money, goods and services, she asked attendees to help the Safe Passage initiative in another way. “It’s time to stop the cycle of violence in our society that is now causing one in three women to be a victim of domestic or sexual abuse at some point in her life.”
She challenged each listener to take home a colored dot laying on each table. “Stick it in your wallet, drop it in the cup holder of your car, maybe carry it in your pocket. Use that dot as a reminder to become aware of what you see, and of what society accepts, that contributes to the increasingly violent world we live in.”
The director wants conversations to change attitudes and is optimistic it’s already happening at area schools through the Safe Passage Youth Council. “They are young leaders who are stepping up, getting involved and asking the tough questions with their peers about why our teens are accepting of harassment over social media and texting and abuse.”
Yorn asked, “How many of you here are part of an organization that started because of one person who saw a need and then connected the need with action? In Batesville we have a rich heritage of local leaders whose lives have testified to the power of connecting those dots to make great things happen. My hope tonight is that we all seize moments that move our lives and this great community to a model of respect, peace and justice.”
Debbie Blank can be contacted at email@example.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.
More features Friday Linda Ortman was named the Distinguished Educator and Project T3 received the Distinguished Organization honor. The recipients will be featured in Friday's issue.