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!
“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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