Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Parents of Murdered Children — National Day of Remembrance

September 25th marked the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims, a day set aside each year to honor the lives of loved ones taken by violence. Once again, the local Sacramento Chapter of “Parents of Murdered Children” (POMC), in coordination with chapters around the nation, held a special ceremony to remember and pay honor to the sons, daughters and other family members that have been taken away all too soon.

I was privileged to be one of the selected speakers at this year’s POMC event on the north steps of the State Capitol. When I addressed the supporters and families, I conveyed that CalVCP is committed more than ever to helping parents recover from such tragedy. For many, the road to healing is long and arduous and now is a time when victims need our help the most, as well as our support. We understand that and provide mental health treatment, funeral and burial expenses, lost wages and much more for those who have no other means.

There were several other speakers on this day, including: Sean Laird, Sacramento Deputy District Attorney; Ahmale Dorsey, Victim Advocate; and Mindi Russell, Senior Chaplain, Sacramento Law Enforcement. All were on hand to share their thoughts and provide support to grieving parents and family members and be part of this community of victims and survivors.

Sadly, 38 percent of the victims that we help are under 18 years of age. And last year, 31 applications for assistance came to us from a parent or guardian who lost a child to violence. Every day, I see how important it is that we have this service for the thousands of families who have nowhere else to turn. We are continuing to work with our sister agencies to provide the necessary resources and care for these victims and their families. By doing this, we can ensure that Californians have somewhere to turn when the inconceivable happens.

As a united front, we shall always remember and honor all those who have become victims of murder and all those families who lost so much.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Long Road to Recovery

Last month the LAPD announced that they had made arrests in the case of the brutal beating of Bryan Stow, the San Francisco Giants fan who was assaulted in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium on March 31st of this year. Two men, believed to be responsible for the assault on Mr. Stow, that left him with severe brain injuries, were taken into custody and charged with mayhem, assault and battery.

Despite the progress toward bringing Mr. Stow’s alleged attackers to justice, the true emotional and physical cost to Mr. Stow and his family can never be fully measured. This story, although unique in terms of the public interest it has attracted, is like so many other stories of victims of violent crime, entailing great financial toll and a long struggle for recovery. In the five months since the attack, Mr. Stow remains hospitalized and battling very serious injuries.

News headlines seldom follow the personal aftermath of violent crime and the long road to recovery faced by victims. Once the tragedy is out of sight, we tend to forget about the burden victims are left to carry. Even more sobering, we know that for each story that we hear about in the media, there are literally thousands of other violent crimes in California, some which go completely unnoticed in the public eye. Whether we hear their stories or not, these are all victims who may travel this path without knowing where to turn, in order to find the support they need.

Though no one can ever erase another’s suffering and struggles, we can work together to make sure victims of crime receive assistance with the bills they can’t pay. At CalVCP, we work with victims to connect them with victim advocates and get them compensation for expenses incurred as the result of a violent crime.

For these victims, CalVCP assistance may be a critical step in the recovery process. We will continue our mission to provide the best service possible to all victims of crime and never forget the struggles they suffer and the long road to recovery they must endure.