The CUE Center for Missing Persons – Paving the Way through Grace- for the Families 2016


“The number of reported missing individuals has become a silent epidemic with the open roadways, waterways, and scenic wood lines used as open graveyards. They are horrific graveyards to which no one is paying attention.  Reports of Missing Persons exceed 800.000 annually, leaving nothing more than a path of devastation felt by thousands of families left behind, to linger an unknown fate.” Monica Caison 

Snapshots in Time-

paving-the-way-fuzzy11-e1448040883768Founder, Monica Caison – Honed her skills in missing person’s case management and counseling families through intuitive knowledge and 23 years of “ground pounding,” covering thousands of hours in the woods, and every terrain, on the road, with phone calls, and home visits. Over the years, she has built an impressive network of colleagues in law enforcement and other arenas, enlisting their help with the sole purpose of finding missing persons and unsolved homicides.

Hugs, tears and joyful experiences are indelibly seared into her memory. Ask about a specific case, and she has an encyclopedic recall of details!   She knows her strengths, and knows when and to whom to delegate.  She delivers her brand of compassion combined with a sense of reality and urgency for new families, for they do not know the journey and have to be schooled rapidly. Surrounded by advocates across the country, Monica customizes her approach with every case and perseveres until there is resolution.

Her skills shone brightly at the 12th Annual Conference in Wilmington, NC.

INVESTIGATION SKILLS- Huddled in small groups, State Coordinators listened intently to a previously solved case.  During this “think on your feet” exercise, selected facts were given and we were asked to identify the most important information in five minutes in order most effectively proceed with the case. Ideas, questions, clarifications were tossed around participants. In the end, we learned many lessons about how difficult case management is when time is a precious commodity.

A CAUTIONARY TALE – A Sunday morning tutorial by Monica stressed the importance of the actions of the first person on the scene will set the tone for the entire investigation.  Preconceived ideas, your history with similar cases, your feelings about investigators can color and often times lead the case down the wrong path with damaging effects that can take months to rectify.

(Without the proper experience) “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” St Bernard of Clairvaux  

Sometimes it’s good to throw you in the water to see if you will sink or swim… that’s how we learn!

PRESENTERS- The air was “electric with anticipation” for the new topics and new speakers –

We so appreciate the talented and diverse array of presenters who gave of their time so selflessly in impart their knowledge and insights to assist those who work with missing persons and homicides.  For a detailed account of their bios refer to- Collage


Wesley Clark– Former Connecticut State Police Detective and Supervisor with 22 years experience with the State police Major Crimes Squad, and Internal Affairs. Since 2009, his focus has been to train law enforcement in innovative approaches regarding interviewing and interrogation of suspects; 

“Sometimes when you push someone, you find out who that person really is.” Keith Ablow- Murder Suicide

Timothy Palmbach – As of 2013, Professor Palmbach has been engaged with the implementation of advanced forensic investigative methods in the war against trafficking in persons (TIP) and related issues such as counter terrorism. He worked with non-governmental and government officials to employ the collection of DNA based evidence during active, undercover investigations involving cases of human trafficking in the countries of Nepal and Costa Rica.  In 2004, he joined the faculty of the University of New Haven as an Associate Professor and Chair of the Forensic Science Department.

He was Executive Director of the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science. In that capacity, he built and trained law enforcement personnel throughout the world. His credentials also include being a Major of the Connecticut State Police/Commanding Officer/Director for the Division of Scientific Services, Department of Public Safety Laboratory; He served as a Detective and then Sergeant with the Major Crime Squad, and earning his JD from the University of CT Law School.

“You can choose to look the other way but you can never say again, you did not know.” William Wiberforce”

Michael StreedInstructor: Sergeant (Ret.) is an internationally-recognized forensic facial imaging expert based in Southern California with 35 years experience of law enforcement combined with his forensic artist skills to large police departments across the country. He also owns SketchCop Solutions, LLC – Law Enforcement’s Source for Facial Imaging and Biometric Identification, managing an innovative consulting business to law enforcement and private entities. He is the author of the book, “Sketchcop.”

“The ultimate mystery is one’s own self” Sammy Davis, Jr.

Michael Melson- Founder/President of Hawk Analytics–a company that develops applications that extract rapid answers and compelling visual evidence from location-based data, worked in the cell phone industry for over a decade  as an engineer with an advanced degree in software architecture with over 25 years cumulative experience.  He began developing software tools to better visualize the records after working with law enforcement as a pilot and search volunteer for missing persons.2011 was a landmark year in which he assisted solving a missing person cold case the first time entirely through phone records. In 2013, the first commercially available version of those software tools was launched as CellHawk.

“The cell phone has become the adult’s transitional object, replacing the toddler’s teddy bear for comfort and a sense of belonging.” Margaret Heffernan, Author, International Businesswoman 

Steph Watts – Producer–Journalist, specializing in profiling Cold Case Crimes, Homicide, Missing Persons, whose uncompromising standards assist families in creating a true awareness of the issues surrounding crime victims.  His investigative work has been instrumental in discovery and compelling coverage in such cases as the Kathleen Savio- Drew Peterson trial, Scott Peterson, Casey Anthony trials, Mathew Sheppard murder, the trial of cult leader Warren Jeffs, in addition to his contributions for many cable TV series.

“We don’t go into journalism to be popular. It is our job to seek the truth and put constant pressure on our leaders until we get answers” Helen Thomas – Former White House Correspondent

Jon Liebermanis an Emmy award-winning investigative correspondent, host, producer, author and victim advocate. He is a Board member of PAVE -Project Against Violent Encounters  Jon is President of Command Communications – a full service communications firm. He has also created and executive produced original video series for the web and consulted with major corporations and media on content development and execution. Jon has filed hundreds of reports on fugitives across the country and abroad for the FOX TV show “America’s Most Wanted.”

Objective journalism and an opinion column are about as similar as the Bible and Playboy magazine.” Walter Cronkite


The Families – Approximately 350 persons registered for this year’s Conference, a percentage of whom were missing person or homicide family members turned volunteers, and Coordinators. There’s nothing like the “gravitational pull” of tragedy to bring like people together forever…

1) Harriet Rivers – On behalf of her Missing Daughter – Ebonee Spears –

A Smiling Face Adorns the City of Wilmington Hoping for Answers!

“It’s just like the city opened up and swallowed my child whole” were the words Harriet used to describe the mysterious disappearance of Ebonee.  Ebonee is a single mom with a young child, who went missing after being seen about 10:45 pm outside her Wilmington home.  Prior to that time, she went to the Wilmington Police Department and tried to make a call using their phone and was frustrated when it would not operate and left, according to the officer on duty.  News sources via her mother report that Ebonee was on an anti-depressant for Lupus and had been acting strangely in the days leading up to that night. In addition, her boyfriend, father of her child, went to her apartment and noted her car was in the driveway, her purse inside, but no cell phone and no Ebonee.

Her best friend, Coquitta Whitaker, owner of a local hair salon said, “She’s so responsible. This is not like her.” Ebonee was also a temporary employee at the University of North Carolina- Wilmington in their history department last spring and summer.  Faculty was impressed with her work ethic and dedication to her child.

A billboard campaign was initiated by the CUE Center for Missing Persons at the beginning of March in six strategic locations throughout Wilmington.  Regarding the effectiveness of billboards, according to Monica Caison, “they become larger than life and get so much more attention.” In fact, Ebonee’s face and demographic information will be seen for eight seconds 500 times a day through the rotation of the six billboards. The billboards will remain with her information as long as needed.

Anyone with information concerning Spears or her disappearance may contact official sources including the Wilmington Police Department at 910-343-3609 or anonymously submit a tip via Text-A-Tip. Send “Tip708” and the information to 274637 (CRIMES). The WPD is offering a $5,000 reward for information.

Ebonee’s Cue Center Profile:

2)  Gretchen Ring on Behalf of her Missing Daughter- Heidi Ring , Chico California-

Gretchen Ring is a 72 year old mother tormented by the ups and downs of her former child, Heidi, She was described as someone  “with a very big heart who helped everyone,” but sadly, could not help herself. Heidi was trapped in the endless cycle of mental illness and physical impairments such as migraines and a seizure disorder. To ease the pain, she smoked marijuana and then “graduated” to harder drugs which became the vehicle of her downward spiral including homelessness. However, Heidi, then 37, always checked in with family up until June 2005.   Reaching out to the “hobo network” as Gretchen called it, and spending all of her money to try to get Heidi on an even keel, did not help in the long run.

A dedicated investigator, Luis Parker, now 84, generated many leads that seemingly went nowhere all the way to Oregon. Tell tale signs that Heidi was not merely within the underground of homelessness, but truly missing was the fact that she did not retrieve her prescriptions or government assistance check.

Seven years came and went with her family diligently looking for her, while at the same time, rumor had it that Heidi didn’t want to be found by her family which only served to alienate all parties. But still, there was a mother’s unwavering love, a mother who spent her last dime on this thankless unending search.

Heidi’s remains were found adjacent to a boat ramp at Ord Bend Park in July 2012, and they were identified as hers in October of 2012. However, the circumstances are still unknown. Was it a homicide, or was foul play involved? This question kept Gretchen awake at night. It also has given her the desire to help others in the cycle of homelessness and to create a deeper awareness by telling Heidi’s story. The pain and sacrifice is etched on her face. But she states, “Maybe I can help someone out, somehow, with their journey in this unforgiving landscape of pain that families are in.”

3) National Candlelight Service- Featured Guest Speaker– Dawn Drexel on behalf of her Missing Daughter, Brittanee Drexel

There is a  pervasive sense of honor that is in the air when one attends this event. It is characterized by a special police escort throughout the entire route, much care, coordination and participation by so many volunteers is evident; the Wilmington River flowing adjacent to rows of chairs, flowers, music, speeches from the heart, candles, music, awards, prayers… and a veiled wall soon to be revealed, bearing witness to the many missing persons yet to be found in the future!

A mother stands at the podium and reads words from the heart. ‘Words that cut like a knife; Words that discuss how she has coped, her pride in family, her perseverance, her gratitude to the Cue Center and all of the volunteers and the legacy the disappearance of her daughter has created as a model for other families to come.  The milestone of seven years has brought both bitter reminders of the loss in Dawn Drexel’s life. On the positive side, a lifetime of new friends and families embraced her in the darkest days of life when her daughter, Brittanee seemingly vanished off the face of the earth while visiting Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. On the negative side, there was indescribable loss, longing and “if only’s.”

What has not been said about Brittanee’s case? There’s been speculation, rumor, inertia, some facts, as well as a fierce dedication to the mission of locating her at any cost by the Cue Center for Missing Persons and other entities.  Brittanee represents all missing persons of her generation. This has been a heavy burden for the Drexel family and all parents of missing children.


Her cell phone’s last communication was emitted from a tower in McClellenville, S.C. – about 60 miles or an hour and 20 minute drive from Myrtle Beach.

Abduction and possible human trafficking has been among the strongest theories to date. However, the strongest injustice has been the “conspiracy of silence” from the other parties involved, which is crushing to one’s soul! How can it be after seven years ,that NO ONE has come forward to give a substantial lead? And yet, they carry on…

A Candlelight Vigil is planned for Brittanee on the 7th Anniversary at the Market Common where a tree was planted in her honor. See details –

Anyone with information regarding Drexel’s whereabouts or her disappearance is asked to call the Myrtle Beach Police Department at 843-918-1963 or the CUE Center for Missing Persons’ 24 hour tip line at 910-232-1687.

My Personal Thanks

This, my fourth year of involvement and service to the Cue Center was an overwhelmingly rewarding Conference in so many ways, I never could have imagined!

DRGAwards2016I received a multitude of awards, including a Volunteer Service Award, the Keeper of the Flame Award, the Passages Award in memory of Susan Murphy Milano, and a beautiful wood carving with a message of hope.  These accolades were befitting of so many among me, and yet I was chosen – what an honor!

And yet, with all of these accolades, the most meaningful aspects for me, was the   sense of belonging to something very worthwhile, a cause larger than life itself, a commitment  to the people- the families, the volunteers,  and their stores,. It meant the opportunity to learn more from Monica and the presenters and instructors. I thank Monica and her staff for their kindnesses toward me, the sense of appreciation and confidence in my skills, which was heretofore not fully known to me. You could have knocked me over with a feather… several times!

Susan Murphy-Milano – I would be remiss if I did not relate my gratitude to my former earthly and now spiritual connection to dear friend, advocate, mentor and fellow homicide survivor, Susan Murphy Milano.  Susan was special to many people. She sacrificed so much, helped thousands of victims, and defended her innovative methods and amazing track record, particularly in assisting those experiencing intimate partner and family violence.  She made an indelible impression on my life.  I believe she was “observing from the great beyond” in Wilmington,” embracing me through Monica Caison and Peggy Bettis at the podium. How I miss her!

Monica Caison – The voice for missing persons and unsolved homicides whose selflessness and dedication continues to inspire me and countless others across the nation. I’ve learned she is a keen observer of all of her charges, who gives you autonomy and the ability to learn and grow over time. Monica quietly appreciates dedication, quality work, and those with compassion and a giving nature. I love that she embraces mankind, of every walk of life or circumstance,  uses selective compliments peppered with a kidding nature and self-deprecating humor!   She sees to it that every single family feels as if they are the only ones who matter!

No, she deserved to be found… and I’m sure we all walked away with life lessons that day. We all need to matter. We all need to be loved by someone.     We all need to be found. But more importantly, all need to be searched for.” Monica Caison 

Peggy Bettis – A trusted friend and supporter, was front and center. Her selflessness was demonstrated in ways that can never truly be measured, except in our hearts! She too has enriched my life immeasurably!

It’s the Little Things That Count too;

Thank you to Rachael Smith for showing care and concern for my food allergies. Thanks to James “Hambone” Hamm for being my special golf cart chauffeur.  Thanks to all of the State Coordinators who are so friendly and don’t mind that I’m “a Yankee” at heart! LOL

Coming Full Circle

With an average of over 500 new cases served per year, (2013 Stats,) Hope is not strictly defined. It can come in the form of “just carrying on” daily with the support of others, or achieving resolution such as a tragic, fateful end or the recovery of a person and potential reuniting with a family!  Our emotions, our bodies, our minds and our souls take the ultimate toll in this process.  We are never, ever the same again, no matter what the outcome.   All things considered, Monica Caison and the Cue Center is there for everyone, answering the call!

To Donate:

“I wake up softly entering my day, to only wonder who will be found along the way.”  Monica Caison 


Coming Home 

coming home

When you are a victim of crime, the meaning of “coming home” can take many forms.

There are many contexts that apply, several of which have a positive connotation. Let’s examine a few situations:

“Coming Home” the Movie 1978- Starring Jane Fonda, Jon Voight, and Bruce Dern.   A post Vietnam War film tells the story of veterans with their families’ struggles to acclimate to a public that does not embrace their sacrifices and does not know their traumas. But more than that, it tells the tale of one family separated, dealing with loss and love, new, unexpected love of a war veteran confined to a wheel chair with paraplegia and dedicated love of a husband. She is a woman torn by two loves. This film was also a groundbreaker in that it “opened the door of possibility” of portraying the sexuality of persons with disabilities. The title “Coming Home” deals with the different experiences of two  veterans coming home, how they deal with civilian life…or not.  The music is wonderful… the story a tapestry of volatile emotions, the ending tragic!

YouTube – Trailer

YouTube-Full Movie

Many crime victims who fight the good fight for others so intensely, particularly the “lone rangers”, who have suffered so many losses, including losing family, as defined in the dictionary, may have nowhere to roost despite their outstanding accomplishments and huge following of friends, colleagues and fans.

This seems inconceivable, but it does occur.  There is indeed a high price to pay for so much sacrifice on behalf of others, at the expense of your own well-being. It seems contradictory on the face of it. Very intelligent talented people, with enemies and an adoring public at the same time, the true measure that you are worth your salt.

As I write this, Susan Murphy Milano is the prime example in my thoughts.  Although she lived on the edge of life for years, she truly felt most at home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, surrounded by some very dedicated friends and colleagues and the place in which she recorded her weekly radio shows.  They were her surrogate family of the heart, helping her through thick and thin, particularly in those final months of life, when cancer ravaged her body.   I feel very honored to have been a part of that circle when Susan’s heart came home to roost. It seems like I wrote a million posts about her to ease my pain.

Here is but one example I wrote about Susan’s final coming home to her heavenly resting place.

Excerpt of Susan’s Coming Home from the website Conquering Cancer.

When your life is dedicated to finding missing persons, families long for nothing more than their loved one to come home. No matter the circumstances, families seek answers, action, and resolution. There are so many variables that determine the coming home of their loved one, and, ultimately, if the person is found as a rescue or a recovery, a world of difference in the hearts of a mother, father, sibling, cousin, best friend, etc.

It is that process of coming home that Monica Caison, Founder of the CUE Center for Missing Persons based in Wilmington, NC, that is the lifeblood of this fine organization. For over twenty years, Monica and her national network of volunteers have forged rivers, swamps, dense forest, moved mountains, excavated, dove into frigid waters and more, all with the goal that each missing person can come home.

As Monica so eloquently states, “Every missing person is someone’s child.”

For an overview and highlights of a previous annual conference, see the following blog post:



Looks Can be Deceiving: Victim Advocacy, A Life’s Mission, but Never Fully Compensated

court room, victim advocates

Crime Victim Advocates are a strange breed… Typically, it is not a chosen profession.  Rather, they come from the ranks of the survivors of crime. It is a hard row to hoe, seeing the dark side of life, the violence and the pain in the aftermath.

Violent crime sneaks up on “its prey” and shatters life as we know it. We are told in an academic manner that we must traverse through the stages of grief outlined by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross…one step forward, then three steps back, never on an even keel.  We get stuck along the way ultimately to come out the other side a different person who can help others via their own life transformation.

Some survivors experiencing such a transformation, may be able to put it behind them “in a corner of their mind,” proceeding on a new path. There are those advocates who spring into action in very non-traditional ways.  They feel compelled to spread their message however they can.

Crime victim advocates may be able to find paid work within state or federal government arenas or non-profit organizations as well as some prosecutor’s offices and some police departments. However, frequently such positions are few and far between. Many of these positions are often the most low paying too!

Taken from my Blog The Murder Business… What’s Wrong With this Picture?

Crime Victim Advocates – (Court Based or Non- Profit)

$45, 0000 annually which is 38% lower than the average of all job postings!

Private Investigators (As of May 2009) Average Hourly wage is $22.66; Average annual wage = $47,130; Investigators with one year of experience = $25,602 annually; Investigators with 20+ years of experience. Range = $37,443 to $70,080 annually;

Private Investigators working in the Management, Scientific and Consulting Industries the most well compensated: Average = $90,030 annually;
Private Investigators in the Natural Gas Distribution Industry earn $83,080 annually; Private Investigators in the Computer System Design Industry earn $79,380 annually; Private Investigators in the Telecommunications Industry earn $74,800 annually; The highest paid private investigator employed by a state is Virginia at $$68,420 annually;
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics…

Police Detectives earn a range of $34,402 to $94,171 annually;

Homicide Detectives earn a median salary of $62,110 nationally; In a 2010 Survey of 435 detectives a salary range of $44,613 to $81,796 was reported; Detectives in the Federal System earn an average of $75,390 annually; Detectives in State Government earn an average of $54,940 annually; Detectives in Local Government earn an average of $61,230 annually;

Top Five Highest Paid Cities – Detective Salaries as of an August 2010 Survey) (Includes Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and St. Louis)

Salary Range on Average was $68,200 to 107,304 annually;

Domestic Violence /Intimate Partner Homicide- Director of Non-Profit:

  • Executive Director positions earn an average of $48,155 annually;
  • Program Manager Non– Profit position earns an average of $42,907annually;
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) earns an average of $39,996 annually;
  • Masters of Social Work (MSW) earns an average of $33,384 annually;

Left to their own devices, Advocates work at their passion on a part-time basis, nights and weekends, or they may even give up their paying jobs to pursue their mission IF there is another source of income in the household.  However, most people do not have such an option, especially in these dire economic times.

A majority of Advocates cannot afford the exorbitant costs of life coaches or most publicity and marketing companies. Moreover, many organizations are cutting paid speakers out of their budgets no matter how dynamic or compelling the speaker or message may be.

The realities of being an Advocate frequently include self-promotions, locating bookings for presentations, writing articles and books, (hoping to procure the services of a publisher “who will bite” and share your vision in order to disseminate your vital message and perhaps yield some income).

Case in Point:

Susan Murphy-Milano

Susan Murphy-Milano

Susan Murphy-Milano, a beloved former colleague and intimate partner violence expert, always presented herself –her countenance, style of dress, nails accessories etc. like she “had a million bucks.” In order to be professional, you must look the part, after all. However, reality tells a far different story.

Susan Murphy Milano is in a state of high indignation–a condition she experiences with exasperating frequency. Milano is an advocate for battered women. She’s not a lawyer or a social worker but sort of a guardian angel: she listens to their stories, tells them what their legal options are, hooks them up with shelters and counseling services, coaches them through media interviews and press conferences. For all of her trouble she receives no pay.”

 “Later she confesses, “Friday I was on burnout–I can’t catch up sometimes. I don’t think I got five hours of sleep all last week. . . . I don’t know how long I can keep going like this.” Milano knows that she courts exhaustion by keeping this schedule. A vegetarian, she worries about “keeping my health and mind straight” but smokes a pack a day. “I don’t relax well,” she admits. “I’m a real nervous Nellie.” But she shows no signs of slowing down.” 

 “It seems that no one thinks about how Susan is supposed to live, either. Being a full-time, unpaid advocate has been hard financially. When we first met, in late February, she said rather wistfully, “I’m all on my own. I get paid by writing speeches, doing fund-raising, consulting, writing articles. It’s pretty hand-to-mouth. . . . I keep waiting for someone to come and say, ‘We’ll hire you.'” But none of the agencies seemed interested.”

On our many phones conversations over two years, I would hear Susan crunching on some snack as we talked, with a “creaky cupboard “making noise in the background in her home. I asked her once, “Susan, how well do you live?” Her response, “Not very well, Donna.”

For all the thousands of Advocates out there who continue to forge a path for others selflessly, carry on, but make a Plan B for a steady income…  You deserve it!

Looks Can be Deceiving: Victim Advocacy, A Life’s Mission, but Never Fully Compensated

Birthday Blog: New Horizons- What is Prosperity?


Another year, another birthday… and it happens to be a “milestone year” chronologically that I don’t want to think about because; I believe I actually think 30 years younger! (And perhaps my good genes give me a tad younger countenance than most people.)    Anyway…last year was the “Crayola Box of Colors,” the year before that was the “Pioneer Woman of the Wild West” and the year before that “Simplicity spells happiness in gift giving.”  So…do I want to change it up to demonstrate to readers that I have “grown?” I have, so there’s no need to make up profound stuff for the sake of “It’s your birthday.” No pressure, I have no one to please, but myself.  That, in fact, is a tall order because I always have had very high expectations of myself, perhaps as a way to compensate for my physical disability (which has nothing to do with my talents and abilities, which took my brain a LONG time to learn!)

My Loves, My Passions, My Frustrations and What’s/Who’s truly important in this life:

I still love the writing… and someday when my time, my money, timing, and talent of friends allows, there will be a book (in progress). For now, I am expanding my horizons with delving into other audiences besides the usual social media!  What I have learned- whether it is on a sticky note, a word document or a classy compilation with fine editing, the written words are the most important thing, as well as the endless combinations and ability to write about what others do not! Perhaps that is a gift – the road less travelled …

Under that category, falls my innovation, my unique, customized  Victim Impact Writing Service which offers a crime victim, who is vulnerable, and traumatized an opportunity to take some of the burden off of their shoulders, to try to walk in their shoes “better than the average bear”, knowing the system from several points of view, my ability  to relate to people no matter what walk of life from years of professional practice in many endeavors, and to translate their feelings and life forced upon them into “new normalcy” with dignity and balance ….to remove the focus on the perpetrator, hopefully to achieve the maximum sentence or continued incarceration.  And…. the good news is that officials in California may consider incorporating this service into their victim compensation funding in some manner! How cool is that?

The Radio, The Radio, The Radio:  

It all began with an offer from Susan Murphy–Milano and Delilah Jones… nearly three years ago with an offer about which I was terrified, but felt I could not refuse! What? ‘A live radio show, weekly, for an hour with no commercials and a “blank canvas?” Are you kidding me? No!   The concept, conceived on a cruise ship with PI, Denny Griffin, and then we were off and sailing!

This venture has  been a tremendous vehicle to accomplish much in terms of zeroing in on the aftermath of crime (again, which no one else focuses on), creating an awareness and educating others to issues not discussed, providing another avenue for writing blogs with embedded podcasts and… most of all making people connections which are long-lasting!

Over time, radio listening habits have changed in the industry which is a real mystery to PR professionals and all radio hosts ….but we at Shattered Lives Radio have consistently kept up the quality. ‘The downside- the human element in having to chase the bookings to get confirmations etc.  However, the “brass ring” is that when we do decide to retire this venture, all of the shows are archived for repeated listening, presenting an impressive historical timeline of human events and a wonderful aftermath of crime library.

A New Home for the Future- 

Unless you have a chronic disability affected by changes in weather, this will seem like Greek to you! However, as a person with spastic cerebral palsy, my body, which I frequently push to the limits, feels as stiff as a board in cold temperatures, compromising my mobility and my usual vast amounts of energy. I knew it would come to this…a major life decision to move to a warm climate. My search began about six years ago…and although I thought my heart was set on the location and friends in San Diego, it was not to be for a few reasons. Rather, I built my network and friends and colleague to the Carolinas and another major cultural shift….. Back and forth back and forth for several years.  I have no one “to assist or grow old with,” so my choices are my own, for good or for bad. However with living minimally, carefully and careful planning, I have found a location in Myrtle Beach that offers comfort and serenity…and the potential for further income. So… take the risk and do it!  It has been very stressful dealing with the differences between the States of Connecticut and South Carolina. However, I am always up for the challenges in order to pave the way for retirement in the future. I will never be a “lounger”, but will enjoy more of life’s offerings beyond the treadmill of work in the future, I promise!

My Frustrations –

I could be lavish in my expectations and say I want “xyz legislation” or changes in policies, programming,  or homicide survivors, the missing, victims of intimate partner violence, human trafficking and on and on… to be accomplished by next year at this time because that is my goal.  BUT, the biggest lesson of all for advocates to learn is that they (we) cannot save the world no matter how hard they (we) try.  Instead, it is a matter of degree!

The pursuit for justice and equality for all will always be illusive.  We cannot stop crime, or grief, or bring the deceased back to life. We can, in our own way, do what we can to assist others and be satisfied.  It is vital to know your limits and stick to them.   As I age, I have learned much from others combined with my own trials.  The following truisms may sound cliché, but they are good barometers just the same. (Keep in mind that I am not the model for all of these truisms….still a work in progress.) Being a survivor of crime sometimes brings emotion and lack of objectivity Having friends who can provide the extra objectivity when needed is invaluable. No one knows it all… no matter how many degrees you hold or experiences you have.   With each passing year, and over 30 years of survivorship, I think, “I’ve seen it all.” But truly, I am always learning and that is the best reward in life!

Try to always be part of a solution versus “flaming the fire of the problem”; Always scale your expectations of others – people, systems, events, for you never know what has occurred before… and keep in mind always that your drive to achieve, your priorities and timelines often don’t match others. It’s truly a miracle that anything gets accomplished in the world of criminal justice!  Setting realistic goals and seeking to respectfully collaborate with others, making them shine, (sometimes at your own expense), will often make things happen quicker.

Know when to push, know when to pull others in, know when to set your boundaries, know when to introduce your “out of the box” idea, know when to be a catalyst, not necessarily in the middle of the change. Give others credit always!  Be positive …and if you can’t be positive, be hopeful that things will turn around.   It is a delicate balance between giving crime victims the information that they need in small doses and yet shield them from the realities they may face in the uncertain world of the judicial process. Perseverance is my middle name. But,   patience is a virtue that I rarely have. It is a necessity in life. I don’t mind others reminding me of this.  I say, “slow and steady” may win the race…but not always!  I would much rather humanize and sensitize the process versus re-create the wheel.

Caring, Burnout and Compassion Fatigue:

I have been there in my professional life – This is a “pitfall” into which all of us can fall if we don’t take care.  If you feel numb or de-sensitized to an issue you used to care so much about, you have not suddenly grown into a meanie – you have evolved. There is ALWAYS something that ignites your fire. You just have to identify it, switch gears and use your energy for that endeavor! I have done this many times!

 Finally, What is Prosperity?

Although I have never been a materialistic or a person of wealth, over the past several years I have seen the stark poverty of Imperial Valley California, and many who struggle in other states – including Connecticut, defined as one of the wealthiest states in the country, and the Carolinas.   What do they have in common? For many, they are happy despite their lack of means for they live within their means and try to create a life that is satisfying to them. They re-define what a good life is beyond material goods.  I have learned much for they are just as giving as this writer, always there to volunteer and help others.  They are good people at their core.  I choose to surround myself by a variety of good people, making new friends, those I can learn from, be intellectually stimulated by, and have an appreciation for new things that I have not yet discovered, while paying it forward in my own ways! That is my personal goal for the coming year!  Turning a milestone year may not be so bad after all!

Ladyjustice …another year older…another year with more curiosity, hopeful for good change wherever we can find it!