PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Debbie Gribauskas spends a lot of time on the phone, reaching out and finding ways to help women in need.
"Any woman going through any kind of transition, homelessness, divorce, empty nesting," said Gribauskas. "Whether they are getting out of a bad relationship, domestic violence, women coming off the street, prostitution, we help them all."
Six years ago, Gribauskas started a nonprofit called Beyond Fear to Freedom. It's a place women of all ages can go for kindness, support and friendship, to build self-esteem to get their lives back on track.
BFF holds weekly meetings to share stories and provide guidance. Gribauskas said her own hardships growing up help her connect with others going through tough times.
"I am a girl raised from Chicago, who had some hard issues, so I can automatically connect with them," said Gribauskas. "I can give tough love they need, yet be understanding to them."
Michael Greene has worked on several community projects with Gribauskas at their church and has seen how hard she works and how devoted she is to helping others. He reached out to CBS 5 to Pay It Forward to Gribauskas and say thank you for all she does.
"She's always there for other people," said Greene. "She's there first to call on the telephone whenever she is asked to help out at the church, and always reaching out and helping others. I just love her for that."
A CBS 5 News crew followed Greene to surprise Gribauskas and give her $500.
"We just wanted to let you know we appreciate all that you do with the BFF," said Greene. "We thank you for the work you do with these girls and how their lives are changed by mentoring relationships that these girls are doing for each other and building up families."
"You are appreciated by FCC and Pay It Forward and we wanted to give you a $500 gift card," added Greene.
"The Lord has called me to deal with the community that's a little more in need," said Gribauskas.