Monday, July 24, 2006

7/24/06 Happy Birthday-Voice for the Missing Blog

Today this blog is one year old. There have been over 46,135 visitors from 6 continents. (If someone from Antarctica is reading this, please let me know so that we can declare seven.)

I started this blog in part because of frustrations and also from strong prompts from some online friends. (You know who you are.) I was frustrated at the lack of media coverage for missing persons, especially adult males, and other marginalized persons, such as the mentally ill, and minorities. I thought that if I could build a significant readership, this could offset, although not necessarily replace, that lack of attention for these persons.

I would only be able to make that happen by partnering with you, my readers.

I would like to highlight what we have accomplished this year. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

In the September archive, you find the story of Yolanda Bindics, posted on 9/18 and 19, 2005. I asked readers to write to the Delilah radio show and request a special birthday dedication for Yolanda. Hundreds of readers wrote in, and not only did Yolanda’s sister get the dedication song played that night, but she also she had an interview, and millions of listeners heard about the story.

On September 26, we featured a parental abduction case, little Erik Buran. While Erik was not located as a result of the blog story, it sparked a massive internet awareness campaign that made officials in Nevada take heed. We feel that our readers and the recipients of the email campaign learned many lessons about the seriousness of parental abduction. On 11/29/05, we were pleased to break the story about Erik’s reunion with his father. A follow-up was posted on 12/4/05 and reunion photos on 12/7/05.

The most read story of a missing person on the blog is that of Jeffrey Ben. You’ll find that in the October archives, dated October 13th. Numerous readers still flock to the story daily through web searches and his family’s website. While the story itself did not lead to Jeffrey’s body being found, it did serve to connect hundreds of caring people to his family when they most needed it. As a side note, the second most read story is that of Maura Murray. The story starts at the end of the September archive and continues in early October. Sadly, Maura is still missing.

Project Jason would become the recipient of a gift because of the blog. On October 10th, I wrote a story that prompted a stranger to contact us and then help us monetarily. More details can be found in the complete story on October 25th.

Two days later, I wrote about an organization in TN who was trying to get off the ground with no funding. I asked readers to return the favors given to us and to help them get started. Our readers were so generous that they not only gave the minimum start-up amount, they tripled it. Tennessee Alliance for the Missing is now a 501 c 3 nonprofit serving families of the missing, thanks to our generous readers. There is a follow-up story on November 3rd.

On November 21st, I began a series which explored the missing who are dead, and many times remain unidentified. This series ended on 12/13/05, the 4 ½ year mark since Jason disappeared. What I hadn’t planned on doing when the series began came to me in that last entry, and will have a lasting effect on a nationwide scale. I started the Campaign for the Missing, using the blog to seek volunteers from all 50 states to pass legislation which will tighten up LE procedures when dealing with missing persons’ cases and the unidentified. So far, this legislation has been passed in a few states by other persons or groups, however, in 2007, we expect to see numerous states adopting this law as we have 6 states with a sponsoring senator and several more pending. In IL, the bill did pass through others’ efforts, but we were able to get our amendments included.

The new year started off with a bang, as my original blog mission was fulfilled in a big way. A reporter from the Boston Globe found my stories on the blog about several missing mentally ill men, such as Lorne Boulet, Mike Hogan, Michael Jarvi, and James Rowe. He then wrote a full length article about them, bringing much needed awareness and hope for their families. I wrote about this on 1/17/06. Unfortunately, Lorne was found deceased earlier this year.

It was 5 years in the making, but I finally had the courage to write about my experiences with psychics in a series that will be ending soon. This series of posts, which began on 3/6/06, were written with the primary goal of demonstrating to families of the missing the methods used by these persons. Understanding what goes on behind the scenes should decrease any guilt feelings for not accepting offers of "help" from these persons, whether it is fee-based or not. We want to lessen the pain already present in our every breath, and arm families with the information to defend themselves against these persons. So far, this series has helped numerous families to be able to, with confidence, say “No thank you.” to these persons and use their time and energies on fruitful tasks.

We’ve also made many new friends in the skeptic realm, bringing awareness for our cause to another section of society. These new relationships played a large role in helping me write the series. Not a day passes that I don’t see a new reader learning, most likely to their surprise, how psychics make it look very real. We don’t yet know the complete outcome of the series, but if you read through the comments on each story, it begins to tell the tale.

May and June left the blog somewhat abandoned, as I dealt with a local missing-turned-murder case and my own difficulties in facing the 5 year anniversary of Jason’s disappearance. I am still writing about that time in my life.

I was just gearing up to writing again when I stumbled across a new blog by the founder of the National Center for Missing Adults. The blog entry stated that the center is in danger of shutting down. Doing something about this trumped writing about my feelings. The entry about the National Center is a few posts below this one, on 7/10/06.

Hundreds and hundreds of concerned persons took this specific cause under their wing. Many of them have a missing person in their life, but to our surprise, many of them did not. While, we still don’t know to what degree this campaign has affected the center, we do know that it has. Our readers gave the employees hope to continue in their very worthy work. We will continue to work together to find answers and even better yet, solutions to keep the center open.

So you see, dear reader, you and I have had quite a monumental year together. Wouldn’t you agree?

Let’s do it again next year. Bring your friends, and we’ll have an even bigger celebration, because when we work together towards a common goal, we make big things happen.


Anonymous Carol said...

It brings me great joy to celebrate this birthday and all of the accomplishments of your 'voice for the missing'!

Thank you for sharing your wisdom, strength and hope. Thank you for showing me what faith is REALLY all about.

Thank you for being you and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

11:26 PM  
Anonymous Maima said...

May your son be found soon, and may there be resolutions one day to all missing persons cases throughout the world.

1:53 PM  
Blogger jennster said...

happy birthday. did you hear they found ryan katcher?
i'm sure you already know this

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Voice for the Missing !!!
What a great job you've done Kelly ! Look at what one year has accomplished. You are truly a gift to us all. Your stories are so compelling and heartfelt. Your desire to change the way our country and law enforcement view the missing-- adults and children alike is inspiring. You're my inspiration and who I want to be when I grow up !!!


11:21 PM  
Anonymous peg popovich white said...

my daughter, julie popovich was found on 09-01-2005 after 21 days of unimaginable torment. her skeletal remains were found in a bean field by 2 young men who were mowing. the coumbus (ohio) police department, most notably, the homocide squad are the kindest, most caring group of individuals. thank you for all your help during and as we continue our ordeal.

12:31 PM  

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