In late December last year, Community Manager Sarah Kohler faced a situation she never expected—the murder of one of her residents.
She’d worked so hard over the past six years to make the apartment complex safe, she said, that when she got the news Dec. 28 that 39-year-old Lori C. Baker had been killed in her apartment, she took it personally.
Still, she wasted little time focusing on the negative. Instead she supported the police department's efforts, informed and reassured Oakdale Village residents, enhanced onsite security and arranged services for the victim’s family, Mayor Carmen Sarrack said Tuesday, March 13, before presenting Kohler with the Distinguished Citizen Award.
Kohler arranged a community meeting for Oakdale Village residents shortly after the murder, and encouraged them to get to know one another better and report anything suspicious to the police.
Kohler said she had a responsibility to make something good come from the horrible situation.
“I think it’s not enough to just be sad,” she said. “You have to try to make something good out of the situation or she died for nothing. It would be terrible to have such a tragic thing happen and not try to do something to help people.”
Since the tragedy, Kohler said more residents are getting to know one another, and contacting her.
Baker’s family donated her extensive book collection to the community.
“It’s been wonderful to put book plates in the books and pass them forward in her memory,” Kohler said.
Kohler said she was surprised and honored to receive the award.
Sarrack said, “Your extraordinary efforts represent the very best that our city has to offer in the partnership between the police department and the community. We are grateful for your support and we are certain that the residents of Oakdale Village are as proud of you as we are.”