Our Heroes: Alexa, Stacey, and Tom Branchini
Where they live: Lewiston, New York
How they help: It Happened to Alexa Foundation
One September morning in 1999, Stacey Branchini woke up to a nightmare when she picked up the phone and was informed that her daughter Alexa, 18, had been raped inside her dormitory on the campus of Boston University, where she had just begun her freshman year. While her daughter’s attacker was arrested later that night, his trial didn’t take place until a year and a half later in January 2001. In the intervening months, Stacey, her husband, Tom, and her daughter faced a traumatic legal process. The family flew to Boston for each part of the trial. When they would land at the airport, “my daughter would break down in front of us,” says Stacey. “We were appalled to learn how poorly [she was] being treated by the system.” Alexa, who testified at the month-long trial, says, “I wouldn’t have testified if my family hadn’t been with me.”
Her experience cost the family dearly in other ways as well, especially in travel expenses and lost income. Tom says now that he’d shake his head and say to his wife, “What would people do if they couldn’t afford this? We’ve got to do something.” Two years later, the Branchinis started the It Happened to Alexa Foundation to help families who might endure the same hardships. The only organization of its kind, the foundation provides funding for victims’ families so that they are able to accompany their loved ones to court. In its first year, the foundation dispersed $7,400; in 2009, more than $100,000 was raised to help 174 victims and their family members and friends. Alexa is now pursuing her PhD in criminal justice and is dedicated to assuring rape survivors that, despite their ordeal, they are not alone.
Know a local hero? Visit American Towns to submit your nomination: americantowns.com/powerofone.
Some people like to travel by train because it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of an airplane.
I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”
“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” —Everyone following you on Instagram
A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.
Comedian Greg Davies
Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.
Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.
My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me everything you know.”
“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” —Alcohol
@yoyoha (Josh Hara)
My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.
Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?
A: A mechanic.
More About Inspiring Stories
What You’re Sharing
- Spending a Day at a Dump Taught Me a Lesson I’ll Never Forget
- After Her Son Passed Away Unexpectedly, Her Church Came Together to Make a Beautiful Stained Glass Memorial
- Thanks to My Friend’s Wedding Veil Catching Fire, I Fell for My Husband of 60 Years
- How Ninth Graders from Louisiana Put a Fascinating Spin on Monopoly
- She Thought She’d Never Meet “The One.” Until He Stepped onto Her Elevator on the Sixth Floor of Wanamaker’s.