The Silence Can be Deafening- No Apologies for Being an Advocate 

Don Gore

Don Gore, my father

After 36 years of surviving the most life-changing event in one’s life, you gain perspective, but you also lose friends along the way.

My father’s murder occurred in Hartford Connecticut on April 17, 1981, and it made the law books for a particular legal maneuver. It was a case whose trial was prolonged for 6 1/2 years, caught in the morass of determinate and indeterminate sentencing laws. It was a case that coincided with the infancy of victim rights. My father’s case began as a missing person and ended as a homicide.

It was a case characterized by unthinkable events such as our family learning the news via a newspaper article and taking it upon ourselves to call the police, as no notification had come our way. There were promises were made such as, “This career criminal will never get out.” In fact, a very skilled attorney/victim advocate was puzzled as to why the perpetrator ever became eligible for parole in 2013.

My father’s murder case changed the State of Connecticut policy regarding the anonymity of victims during a parole hearing although the parole board failed to even acknowledge such a milestone.

That’s when I decided not to be silent. Don Gore needed a voice and I became that person in every way imaginable.

It is not a role I consciously chose, it evolved as my intellectual curiosity and need for justice grew.

Times have changed, with an entirely new generation appearing since 1981.  The landscape in victim services has expanded to include a plethora of agencies, governmental to non-profit. In addition, in 2017, violence, public perception, tolerance of what once was unacceptable, and the ever-changing social mores, has also escalated with the immediacy of social media.

In situations such as violent crime, I believe complacency breeds indifference. If you are not part of the solution, you could be part of the problem. It’s not that you have to go the whole hog, just make a meaningful contribution in your own way.

But then, there are the constants that don’t seem to change the work against positive change and hope for the future. These elements are equal to the silence that pervades if you chose not to be a voice for change, or, at the very least, acknowledge what others are doing and give moral support. The silences can be deafening causing me to work with increased fervor.  Some examples:

  • The murderer having no cognizance of who he killed or who was related to him in addition to showing no remorse;
  • The vulnerabilities that still surface, even after 36 years;
  • The tendency of the public to stay in denial mode, shaking their collective heads unless homicide or other crimes have touched them personally;
  • The lack of connection or involvement in many homicides and missing person families;
  • The refusal to see beyond the obvious that homicide and missing persons isn’t uplifting and that there is nothing positive that can come forth by educating and creating awareness. How wrong these people are, they will never get it! When you look beyond the surface, as advocates, we have been the force for so much positive change. As a byproduct, you gain surrogate families who can be very nurturing. Out of tragedy, inspiring events occur.
  • The lack of resources and assistance for so many families, even in this enlightened era forcing us to be ever more creative to get the job done.

The Future

Although I do not look forward to the five-year mark looming in the background for another appearance at a parole hearing in 2018, I embrace the right and duty to continually try to be the voice of my father, Donald W. Gore, whose life was snuffed out so abruptly and unfairly.

I hope he will be observing with pride from his place in heaven.  Dad, you are missed by many!

DRG- 4-16-2017


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To schedule Donna R. Gore for your next conference, seminar or event, please contact ImaginePublicity.Phone: 843-808-0859 or Email: contact@imaginepublicity.com

Looking Past the Word “Missing:” 2017 National Missing Persons Conference

Luke 2:7 says about Mary giving birth to Jesus, “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn” (New King James Version).

Such is the case with many missing persons. There is no room at the inn, figuratively or literally.

People on the fringes of life didn’t ask to be there. They came into this world, supposedly with an equal chance, until the forces of life were thrust upon them. In past generations, it was doctor, lawyer, Indian Chief as the saying goes. Today, our youth aspire to the tech world, financial services, and emergency services. But what if the world has not prepared you to function properly, despite your dreams? What happens in the aftermath?

We become the casualties of circumstances, as CUE Center for Missing Persons Founder, Monica Caison so aptly observes.  In 2017, there are so many challenges in life. The pace of life, the stress, the expectations are grueling. For those who do not have the wherewithal, the resources, the education, or the support of family and friends, they are destined to get lost in the black hole of existence. What might befall them is the daily reality of what makes the CUE Center for Missing Persons tick.

There are categories of those who go missing; those whose life ends by homicide, those afflicted with mental illness, those who are homeless, those who are kicked out of the house because of their sexual orientation, those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, those who are homeless. One example is veterans, the elderly, and those with chronic medical issues.

Some of the realities include families are often ill-equipped to help once a missing person with a “casualty of life problem” arises.  Such victims begin the path of no return and become part of the escalating missing person pool.  Government assistance is hopelessly bureaucratic with access very difficult.  People are poor, live in rural areas and they do not know what to do, nor how to access information. Often they are embarrassed to ask for assistance. Many people are prideful and decide to fend for themselves. However, when we examine these realities, many are excuses.  Families want the problem to just go away and put forth a minimum of effort. Homeless shelters warehouse people for a few hours and provide band-aid measures like a meal. Counselors expect homicide survivors to heal in six sessions because that’s all that insurance will cover. Men are literally left out in the cold, even when they choose to seek shelter, as women with children are seen as the priority. The list goes on and on.

Embracing Dignity and Courage

These were the lasting impressions as we ended the final morning session of the 2017 CUE Center for Missing Persons Annual Conference, “Embracing Dignity and Courage.”   There were multiple examples of this theme permeating the Conference.

The CUE Center proves dignity and a safe haven for families who are left to their own devices without direction or hope. We NEVER make false promises that their loved one will definitely be located.  However, they are educated and given the tools to carry on in a family centered, the non-profit organization whose skills, dedication and longevity are unmatched.

Victims become survivors and advocates in the long haul nature in the missing persons arena. Without even realizing, there is power in belonging to a club in which no one wants membership. It may take a few months or a year or more. Such families move through their grief and take on the task of guiding others emotionally, providing a lifeline to new members when they are emotionally ready.

No contribution is too small or goes unnoticed in the collective sense. The commitment runs the gamut from tracking calls, to creating vivid informational posters for all to see, to performing case management, holding fundraising events, doing promotion, public relations, conference planning, coordinating ground searches, gathering search and rescue resources and equipment, collaborating with local law enforcement, training police departments and school children alike about aspects of missing persons, recruiting State Outreach Coordinators across the country and countless other functions, matching talent with tasks.

The Victims Hour

You can hear a pin drop.  Selected family members are invited to courageously tell their story of their loved one’s disappearance in order to provide a sense of release, camaraderie and to illustrate that the club has many members and they too share the need for a lifeline and a means to just keep afloat.

Peggy Carr’s case was the first one that gave national notice to the CUE Center. Mother Penny Britton gave a moving portrayal of their story so many years ago and the legacy built since 1988  http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/index.php?s=Peggy+Carr

Monica Button, the mother of Nieko Lisi who went missing in Addison, New York in September 2011, gave the most heart wrenching, angry, grief-stricken, obsession driven account of her efforts for justice. Neiko, who by all accounts was a good son, but with imperfections, remains missing. http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/index.php?s=Nieko+Lisi

Cynthia Day’s recovered remains ended a 26-year wait for her family as a result of comparing cases. The discovery of a box of bones and a thumbprint that may yield a sense of resolution for the multi-generational family who appeared before the conferenced audience.   http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/index.php?s=cynthia+Day+

The National Candlelight Service

This is a take your breath away event combining spirituality, prayer, music, inspirational speeches, acknowledging award recipients, and families who are on the Wall of Remembrance. Hope is Everlasting!  This year, as in the past, the skies opened up adjacent to the Cape Fear River, mixed with tear drops. But the ever-resourceful staff literally picked up the ceremony and accouterments and we continued at the hotel.

How many people do you know who live in a town with a population of 106,500 (2016-17) who also have earned the respect of law enforcement and other community leaders that take the time to personally welcome us and provide an escort by the Sheriff’s Department?  Our escort included sirens blaring and cars race along the entire route to our Riverside Candlelight Vigil. It is a sight to behold! However, it demonstrates the pride and respect shown to Monica Caison, missing persons’ families and all those involved.

Presentations and Classes

Among the many impressive presentations, was the Norma Peterson’s Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit. The Document the Abuse program, addresses the needs of all intimate partner violence victims. My heart was filled with pride to note that Norma Peterson, the sister in law of Stacy Peterson, was now carrying the torch to benefit others in a much wider scope!  http://documenttheabuse.com

And yes, children are involved. They are our future to carry on the organization, and the mission of good works for missing persons, good works for all in their daily lives!

Monica CaisonQuote-

“Only in the Beat of the heart can a count be measured, similar to the step one takes in a search for the lost.” 

Donate to the Community United Effort Center for Missing Persons-  (2016 Top Rated Great Non-Profit) http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/donate/

 


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To schedule Donna R. Gore for your next conference, seminar or event, please contact ImaginePublicity.Phone: 843-808-0859 or Email: contact@imaginepublicity.com

  In the Shadows of the 60’s 

Shadows of the 60's

It has been said that there has never been a time in history as tumultuous as the 1960’s.  I was in the midst of my formative years, and yes, was exposed to (in no particular order) the questioning of our status quo, a change in the ethnicity and idealism of the Kennedy Presidency, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the fear of nuclear war by “the Ruskies,” the cultural change to hippie free love, flower power, the use of mind-altering drugs, the re-introduction of bell-bottomed jeans, the race riots of the South, the Vietnam War, Kent State, an explosion of musical talent from Great Britain influencing  American culture and music, Woodstock  Music Festival and the Watergate break-in, the start of the downfall of President Nixon.

How is it possible with this former explosion of change, we dare to rant and rave about the political events of 2017?

No movie is perfect in its storytelling pitted against factual events. It can’t be, for movies are by nature entertainment vehicles. But, I believe if you stay true to the spirit of the time, capturing major events and people’s lives with integrity and send a message from which audiences can learn in the technological multimedia world of today, you may have created a timeless work for all to endlessly enjoy!

This is all to introduce the spectacular movie, “Hidden Figures,” The untold story of the brilliance of three women who just happen to be women of color, who were the real movers and shakers of our space program who NEVER got the credit! The human drama; the discrimination of the 60s and the integrity and class of these women is unmatched. The acting and story were so moving! John Glenn and many others owe their careers to them.

This narrative is not meant to give away the story as a whole, the plot or the most emotional moments of the film, of which there are many. Rather, it is meant to say that these women played very non-traditional roles in compassion to those white women who rose through the ranks through the usual channels in a man’s world featured in my previous blog, Success and Trauma-Three Women in Space.

Katherine Johnson, (1918-__) a brilliant mathematician, who ultimately with her analytical mind, enabled NASA to excel in many ways, including providing trajectory analysis for space missions  (including at  John Glenn’s request in 1962);

Mary Jackson, (1921-2005) began as a school teacher and later convinced a judge in a groundbreaking ruling to allow her to obtain pre-requisite courses in an all white school in Virginia;

Dorothy Vaughn, (1910-2008)  a math teacher who dutifully supervised “colored colleagues” in the colored computer unit for years without the title and pioneered the use of Fortran, an initial computer language as an expert programmer.

The definition of oppression – Prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control. Prolonged oppression can lead to frustration, depression, anger and violence. There were many examples in “Hidden Figures.” The lack of recognition for women, particularly those of color, demeaning comments, lack of sufficient bathroom facilities, lack of inclusion, lack of respect,  lack of humanity, and very low wages, just to name a few.

Can we now say that we have come so far from that era? In some ways yes, however, take it from one who has experienced much discrimination, there is still much discrimination in our country, both subtle and blatant.  Perhaps we have just chosen to focus on other types of discrimination in 2017. The prime example, Katherine was called a “computer” throughout, as in Noun – person, place, THING. How more demeaning can you get? If not for amazing resiliency, patience and standing up and acting like an “uppity colored” in a few instances, Katherine, Mary and Dorothy NEVER would have made it.

Below I share two scenes, simply to contrast the typical versus a pivotal ground breaking moment in this film.

Trailer # 1-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EiZe6WONWY

Bathroom Scene

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzTjsDb-2Gk

Do go to your nearest movie theater to see it!  “Hidden Figures” will horrify, amaze and delight!

Post Script – If you are curious – What’s Next for NASA?  Read this –https://www.nasa.gov/about/whats_next.html

 

References – https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-story-of-nasas-real-ldquo-hidden-figures-rdquo/

https://www.google.com/#q=Definition+of+Oppression

https://www.nasa.gov/about/whats_next.html


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To schedule Donna R. Gore for your next conference, seminar or event, please contact ImaginePublicity.Phone: 843-808-0859 or Email: contact@imaginepublicity.com

Missing for an Hour or for Years, the Personal Nightmare of LadyJustice

 

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When people try to wrap their heads around the very real circumstance of a man or woman gone missing, it seems so surreal!  But it is very real.  Whether missing for an hour or years, professionals in the non-profit arena take all reports seriously.

When I think back 35 years ago my Dad was also missing, but this aspect was never emphasized in the scheme of things. Although I don’t recall exactly, I estimate that for our family, the time he was unaccounted for was approximately from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. the next day.   Although the police tried to construct a timeline, if they had delved deeper, I believe they would have discovered his identity sooner. What difference do a few hours make? A lot!

We knew his habits and what occurred prior to leaving home in the early evening hours. He owned an auto body business and also sold used cars. After dinner, he typically left to collect monies owed for cars purchased.  Previously, I had inherited the family car to commute to college. The car needed oil, so my Dad intended to get oil for the car that evening.  At the time, I had just earned my Master’s Degree in speech-language pathology and was to report to one of my jobs in Western Massachusetts for my new employer.  I never made it to work the following day.

Don Gore

My Dad went missing and never came home, nor did he call my mother if he expected to be very late or change his plans, as he had done in the past. Hours of worry and concern ensued for my mother. She contacted all the friends, contacts, and family she could think of who may know of his whereabouts. She called the hospitals, nothing.

BUT WAIT…. Intervening events would play a part in this awful scenario. Prior to his going missing, he was at a stoplight and apparently someone had the nerve to mug him for the contents of his wallet, including his driver’s license. Dad had not had a chance to replace his license.  However, his van had dealer plates and he was a well known business owner in the Greater Hartford area.  Ultimately, he was found in his van. Why hadn’t the Hartford Police followed up on this right away? Did the dealer plates go missing too? I’ll never know.

However, what occurred was a series of unconscionable “missteps” by the police. Somehow, before we even had a clue that my father was murdered, the local newspaper (under whose authority?) wrote a newspaper article about a missing person.

Among the many scenes of our homicide that are indelibly etched in my brain is this one –

We were in the living room that morning (Aril 17, 1981). My mother was very worried,  having spent a sleepless night.  I was dressed for work looking out the big picture window.  Mom sat in the rocker and was leafing through the newspaper. In the silence of the early morning, I heard my mother suddenly cry out words to the effect of “They’ve found him. It’s him.”

To our absolute horror, the newspaper heading stated “Unidentified Missing Man Found in Green Van.”  In our hearts, we knew it was my Dad. And then, the two of us summoned our strength to call the Hartford Police together. My mother recalled the detective putting his had over the receiver and in a muffled voice saying, “They’ve just identified him.” This was a chilling moment that no family deserves!  My mother called a close family member, a cousin, in order to provide support and drive us to the police station and the medical examiner’s office. I still did not believe it was true. The moment of truth for me was when someone at the police station walked past us carrying a plastic bag with my Dad’s coat which I recognized. That was a defining moment for me.

Imagine, if you can, learning that your loved one is murdered from a newspaper article with no warning whatsoever!

I could write volumes about the injustices we experienced as I recall the events today knowing what I know in 2017. Law enforcement tried, but they made many mistakes in the investigation, as well as in the judicial aspects for years to come, as the perpetrator never should have been eligible for parole!   Does it do any good to point fingers?  Would it have changed the outcome of the crime? No. I am grateful for their efforts in solving the case. However, I am not comfortable giving everyone involved a “pass” just because of the era in which it occurred, with the lack of resources for crime victims and lack of care versus overzealousness in convicting the murderer.

Perhaps the “saving grace” of our ordeal may be that we paved the way for future victims of crime to have a much better experience over time. That I can live with and it gives me solace.

As for the relatively short period of time in which my father was missing, although it was not prolonged, the events that occurred were horrendous, leaving scars for a lifetime. But, scars do heal. As a result, I have a tremendous amount of respect for all families of missing persons, whose ordeal typically goes on and on.

I will end with a most important message: If you experience a loved one or a good friend gone missing, time is of the essence!  In addition, if you desire expertise in assisting your local law enforcement, to begin the process, a missing persons report must be filed with police and then registered with the CUE Center for Missing Persons. http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/file-a-report/.

CUE donations are appreciated, with all funds committed to the work of locating missing persons and supporting their families.

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To schedule Donna R. Gore for your next conference, seminar or event, please contact ImaginePublicity. Phone: 843-808-0859 or Email: contact@imaginepublicity.com