Cheri Brown Thompson, Healing Species Founder
Healing Species was founded in Orangeburg, SC in 1999 when attorney Cheri Brown Thompson created the Violence Prevention through Compassion Education™ curriculum in response to the discoveries she made during her legal studies in criminal law. Focusing her studies on "depraved heart" criminals, Cheri became greatly troubled by the link between violence toward animals and violent crime in society – finding that 99% of convicted violent offenders were abused as children and, in turn, inflicted abuse on animals (creatures more vulnerable than themselves) before committing violence against humans. The relationship between previous abuse, animal cruelty and perpetuated human violence led to a founding principle of Healing Species, which is to touch and help heal the heart of a child, invoking empathy – the missing emotion in many violent offenders.
Gravey came into Cheri's life during her legal studies and contributed significantly to the inception of Healing Species:
Gravey was on the side of a rural road between Orangeburg, SC and the University of South Carolina law school. She was covered with mange, had lost her fur, and her whole body was like a giant scab and skeleton. Cheri had to pull over on the road to cry, promising, "I'll help you, Gravey." Cheri named her Gravey because she was barely alive. She looked as if she had one foot in the grave. Gravey did not trust Cheri to pick her up and rescue her, so Cheri came back with food and water every day for the next 30 days. As the days wore on, Gravey would eat the food and drink the water and let Cheri get closer. One day, when Cheri was feeding Gravey, a car drove up from behind. The people inside it pointed and said "Look, that's the lady who's been feeding that dog." Gravey lived in somebody's neighborhood, and it was then that Cheri realized that the people responsible for Gravey could see Gravey with their eyes, but they couldn't see her with their hearts.
Cheri got permission to take Gravey home to get her medical care and three months later... Gravey had a full coat of hair and a smile on her face! This experience inspired Cheri to write the Healing Species curriculum to help students learn to "keep their heart," learning to speak up for themselves and others, as she did for Gravey. Gravey served faithfully as the Healing Species mascot for 13 years, residing with the Thompson family and living a life full of love. She leaves a legacy and message for all that "even the most vulnerable and wounded among us is important and has something important to contribute."
Since the founding of Healing Species, Cheri Brown Thompson's successes have been recognized in local and national media highlighting the groundbreaking work of the organization.
Please visit our News & Media pages for links to articles, recognitions and announcements.
"Crime is a learned or reactive behavior. It can be unlearned. Even children who have never been nurtured can learn how to nurture others and themselves, thus intercepting the cycle of violence, abuse, neglect, and crime."Cheri Brown Thompson
"In the legal arena, especially violent crimes are referred to as "depraved heart" crimes. Let us, therefore, address the heart. Let us start with the children."Cheri Brown Thompson
"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."Proverbs 4:23