Community stands strong

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Supporters wear purple and teal ribbons and plan raffle and auction to benefit assault victims

HOLLY SCHOLZ - Michelle Dains, right, ties a purple and teal ribbon onto the jacket of Katelynn Self Tuesday afternoon at the Crook County Courthouse. Dains is a good friend of one of the victims, and Self is a sister of one of the victims.

A group of family, friends and even strangers gathered outside of the courtroom — each one wearing teal and purple ribbons.

Michelle Dains said she came to show support for her friend and her friend's family.

"I've got my purple and my teal on," Dains said after securing a teal and purple ribbon to Katelynn Self's jacket.

They were there to support two Prineville women who were assaulted recently during a home invasion. Their alleged attacker was arraigned Tuesday afternoon at the Crook County Courthouse.

"We were trying to get as many people as we could down there to show support for them," said T.J. Johnson, a friend of one of the victims who started the "Supporting Stephanee and Haley" Facebook page and initiated the purple and teal ribbon movement.

The incident hit home for Johnson, who has been a victim of a violent act and continues to struggle.

"I know personally how it feels to be attacked and have to recover from that and to know that you have other people in this community that support you and have your back so that you can stand up for yourself. We're standing with her," Johnson said. "There's a lot of violence and stuff that happens in this town, and enough is enough. It's time for us to take a stand and stand up with these girls through their crisis."

Johnson's friend, Stephanie Mathis, who does not know the two victims, originally came up with the ribbon idea, and Johnson suggested using their favorite colors.

"I just wanted to do something to show the girls that we support them and as a community, we stand beside them," Mathis said.

With the help of a few others, Mathis and Johnson made several hundred purple and teal ribbons and handed them out. Johnson also tied ribbons to trees along Third Street.

"We will continue to make ribbons for as long as people still need them," Mathis said, adding that they are available at a few businesses around town.

Jim Roths, who owns Club Pioneer and Dillon's Grill, employs both of the victims at his restaurants, and said they are out of the hospital and are doing "fantastic." Both are in their 20s, and Roths said that although they have some physical and emotional challenges, they are strong women.

With the help of his employees, Roths has planned Prineville Strong Raffle and Auction to raise funds for the two.

"Our goal is to help these women have a fresh start — they've been through so much," Roths said. "We're trying to take care of anything we can to help these girls get a fresh start so the daily challenges of life aren't weighing them down."

Businesses and individuals have donated several items for a raffle, to be held at Dillon's Grill at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12. Tickets are $5 each or six for $25 and can be purchased at Club Pioneer, Dillon's Grill, Ochoco Feed, and Pack, Ship and More.

"People want to give. They want to help. They want to support," Roths said. "Businesses are donating from what they have to make this event happen."

Raffle baskets include gift cards to local businesses and services, handmade items, and a two-night stay at the beach. Additional donations keep coming in.

An auction for donated items and services will follow the raffle drawing Sunday afternoon at Dillon's Grill.

"It is unbelievable the different things people are doing," Roths said. "We're just trying to help channel that focus — get it to the girls. It's nice for them to receive so much love in such a tough time like this."

Wally and Julie Backman set up a GoFundMe online fundraiser, "Expenses for Assault Victims," which has raised nearly half of the $10,000 goal.

Like Mathis and Johnson, Roths wants the women to know Prineville is standing strong and supporting them.

"Our end goal in all of this is to see Prineville the safest city for women and that they don't feel uneasy living here," he said.

He'd like to see the community continue to support the cause.

"What in the community can we do to continue channeling the energy in a positive way? Probably something with women's self-defense," Roths said.

On Tuesday afternoon before the arraignment, Stephanee Bishop, one of the victims, greeted her supporters with hugs and tears.

"I can't believe the support that we have gotten, and I'm very grateful for my family not having to worry about anything — medical bills — anything," Bishop said. "I'm very fortunate."

She recounted the incident, saying, "To be honest, I mean I'm very appreciative of it, but part of me is I just like I just wanted to save my best friend. That's it. I woke up being told that I was a hero, and I just asked how my friend was. That's all I cared about. That's all I do care about is that we're OK."

Their supporters are also glad the women are OK and want them to know they are there for them.

"It's a great opportunity for us to show these girls support," Roths said of the fundraiser and the ribbons. "If people do see the ribbons, around, that's what people are wearing them for — just to show the girls support — we're standing with you."