Jessica Griffin decided to join the Peace Corps to travel and "to live and learn more," said her brother Ruben Griffin. She volunteered to work and teach in Mozambique in southeastern Africa. But her life abruptly changed after she was involved in a head-on car crash that left her with skull fractures and numerous injuries. Jessica's family received first word of the accident midafternoon November 17, 2007.
Jessica, now 24, was pulled from the car, said Ruben, who works as a chef at Toast restaurant in Ferndale. "It took five hours for an ambulance to get to her," he said. She was taken to a hospital in Xai Xai, but she was so seriously injured the Peace Corps arranged to have her airlifted to Pretoria, South Africa.
Jessi currently is sightless in her right eye. She'll have corrective surgery on her left eye. It has third-nerve palsy, which controls eye movement. Her reconstructive surgery and other treatment will be covered by the Peace Corps medical plan.
When word got out about Jessi, her large extended family and many friends rallied around her. A pancake breakfast fund-raiser was held Dec. 15 at Ferndale High. Toast restaurant in Ferndale "provided the product," said Ruben Griffin, 30, Jessi's oldest brother, who lives in Ferndale and is a chef at Toast.
The initial impetus to raise money was Jessi's medical expenses, but the Peace Corps has pledged to cover them for at least the first 18 months. "They have been absolutely wonderful," said Nina Griffin, Jessi's stepmother. Funds raised have covered Jessi's needs, airfares to Africa and Kathryn's expenses during an unpaid leave from her employer, Credit Union One in Ferndale.
To donate to Jessica's Journey Foundation, send a contribution to Credit Union One, Attention: Vern McClure, 400 E. Nine Mile Road, Ferndale, MI 48220 or call (248) 854-6357.