Sunday, July 31, 2005

How Can I Help?

Yes, you can help. You can make a difference for these families. So don't just think about it, do it.

I will repeat this post monthly for new readers.

Poster placement has been proven to be one of the most valuable tools in helping to locate a missing person. One of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's branch offices specifically deals in poster dissemination. Last year, out of a little over 1000 campaigns, over 600 children were located because of these posters!

We have links to printable posters in many places on our site, both on the 18 Wheel Angels page and on the Come Home page. On our forum, you can also find links to printable posters.

You can also participate in our Adopt a Missing Person program. For the price of a self-addressed stamped mailer, you can choose one or several missing persons to adopt. You will be sent a photo button to wear and a personal bio, so that you can share their story with others. Wear the button on your purse, backpack, or coat and give these families hope that they will be reunited.

We also need your help financially in order to continue our work. The competition for charitable dollars is fierce and small nonprofits such as Project Jason depend strictly on the generosity of the public. We are an all-volunteer force. There is no paid staff and little overhead. Our phone bill is one of our largest expenses.

I despise posting this because I never want to give the impression we're all about money, but the realities of it are that we just don't get many donations. We have many, many plans we would like to bring to fruition, but it's going to take money to accomplish those things.

So, if you like what we're doing, please help. If you would prefer, please take a look at the good missing person's organizations in your area, and help them. There are many of us who are small and struggling. I know of one who came very close to getting their phone shut off for non-payment.

Donations can be mailed to:

Project Jason
PO Box 3035
Omaha, NE 68103

Thank you for anything you can do for our cause!

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Two Sides to Every Story

They say there are two sides to every story, and indeed there are. I had never had something quite like this happen in my experience in communicating with the families of the missing. Obviously, I cannot share who I am speaking of to protect both sides. In the end, we all just want the safe return of the missing persons.

I was on the phone all night long, until quite late. Each of my three calls was over an hour in length.

The first call was to the wife of a missing man, gone for two months. She needed to speak with someone who KNOWS, someone who understands the "not knowing". Fortunately, she does have a loving, supportive network of family and friends, something that some of our family members do not have. That is sometimes not enough, as these family members need to know that what they are experiencing is normal, even though this entire situation is not normal at all. Like I told this woman, "Nothing is ever normal again."

Recently, I had a conversation with a woman who had never once spoken to a person who understands the "not knowing" in the eleven years that her son has been missing. That just shouldn't be. Even though she had loving friends and family, only someone who is going through this can relate to the various stages and emotions when a person you love is missing.

Like the Mastercard ads, these phone calls are "priceless" to the recipients. I certainly wish I had someone who "knew" to speak to in the beginning.

Call number two was to a woman with a longer term missing son. She decided she did not want to report him missing because she thought that was the best thing in her particular case. I explained to her that because of privacy laws surrounding missing adults, that organizations such as ours cannot help unless there is an active missing person's case on file with a law enforcement agency. If she changes her mind, she knows where to find me.

While I was on call number two, a frantic sounding email came in from the mother of a missing youth. I called her immediately when I was done with the prior call.

There are two young people missing together. There are two conflicting stories about these young people and why they are gone. In the end, the truth will prevail, but the most important thing is that they are found. If the emailer's story is correct, then we must trust in our legal and court system to do the right thing when they are found. If one of them needs protection, then we hope that person gets the help they need. I also hope that the actions of these impulsive young people will not mar their plans for the future, as they both have great potential. Let's pray on this one.

Friday, July 29, 2005

All About Underdog(s)

When I was a child, I used to watch the cartoon show "Underdog". This "humble, lovable" dog would be called into action and become "Underdog", a champion for justice. "There's no need to fear, Underdog is here!", the citizens would proclaim.

The American Oxford Dictionary tells us that an underdog is a person in an inferior or subordinate position.

One could say that I (representing Project Jason) am most decidedly an underdog. After all, we are one of the "new kids on the block" in comparison to some of the other missing person's organizations.

The cartoon Underdog would tell us: "Not bird, nor plane, nor even frog, it's just little 'ole me, Underdog !"

The fact that Underdog was mild mannered Shoeshine Boy in real life didn't stop him from his pursuit of justice, just as our simple, humble beginnings in a tiny kitchen in Omaha, Nebraska won't stop us from our pursuit to reunite missing persons with their families.

We are the underdogs working for the underdogs. You'll never see a post devoted to a missing person who has widespread media coverage. We want that person to be found just as much as we want all of the others to be found. It's a matter of resources and coverage.

A concerned citizen wrote me during the height of the Dru Sdjodin search, asking me to place Dru on one of our awareness campaigns, 18 Wheel Angels. I wrote them back and explained that Dru had more help and resources than the typical missing person receives. With only 24 campaigns per year on the program and close to 100,000 active missing person's cases to chose from, how could I justify using one of those campaigns for Dru? It's hard to choose as it is, and everytime I do, my heart breaks because of all the others that were not chosen.

The underdogs of the world of missing persons needs us. And, even more so, they need YOU!

You can be the eyes looking out for them. I will let you know about them, each and everyday. Will you be their champion?

Good news about Lydia Rupp: She was found safe and Augero is now behind bars. I pray that he did not violate her.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

No More Mr. Nice Guy

The time is long past to stop being nice to sex offenders. They aren't ever cured. Treatment may lessen their next offense, but most likely will not stop it. It seems as if every week there is a new story about how a child died at the hands of one of these predators.

Back in April, my family and I attended a national conference called by the Department of Justice. "Identifying the Missing" brought together people from all over the country who play a part in this puzzle we call the missing person. We were honored to represent the families of the missing. We came together to identify what is needed to resolve the epidemic of missing persons.

At the conference, we met John Walsh. He was the Keynote Speaker. I was nearly moved to tears as he spoke of his son, Adam, and the horror of it all. John almost had to stop speaking because he was so emotional. Later on in his speech, anger took the drivers seat when he explained the need to strengthen our national laws in regards to sex offenders.

This week, he rallied to support The Child Safety Act of 2005. This law, when passed, will close the loopholes in the current system which allows sexual predators to evade law enforcement while continuing to commit their henious acts. It will improve upon and replace the current sex offender registration and community notification law. You can help ensure that this country's children are safe from these monsters by writing to your congressman and senators.

The America's Most Wanted site provides a prepared letter for you to send, and links to help you find where to send it. Research shows 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys will be sexually victimized by the time they reach adulthood. Do this today for your own children or grandchildren.

Even as I write this, yet another predator has a precious child in his clutches, 8 year-old Lydia Rupp, and has taken her into Mexico. Fernando Aguero is a convicted sex offender who never registered in Nevada. We need The Child Safety Act of 2005 in place.

You can read more about Lydia Rupp on the Project Jason forum. We pray that she has been spared from this man's sickness and will be found soon.

We can't afford to play Mr. Nice Guy anymore. There are lives at stake.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Partly Cloudy or Partly Sunny?

What is the difference between these two weather-related terms? I could look it up and tell you, but I'll let you do that if you're interested. To me, one sounds more positive than the other.

Today started out as partly cloudy, and right at the end of the day, it became partly sunny.

The "cloudiest" part of the day was in knowing that once again, the media didn't come to the aid of a missing person's family, at least not yet. Robert Spellman's sister, Tracy, waited and hoped for a phone call informing her that someone was going to run the story of her brother. That phone call never came.

The sister of a long term missing woman contacted me about the 15 year-old missing niece of a man she knew. Joy, sister of missing Linda Little, put me in touch with this very frightened family.

This evening I spoke to Megha Verma's father on the phone. Megha may be listed as a runaway, but facts behind the scenes don't lead one to that as a solid conclusion. I immediately referred the Vermas to our peers at the KlaasKids Foundation, and within a short time, Megha was scheduled to be one of the featured missing children on CNN's The Nancy Grace Show.

Suddenly, the day became partly sunny. There was hope for yet another family.

And as to my own situation: There might be a raincloud above my head, but God gave me an umbrella.

Today's Links:

Print and place a poster of Megha:

KlaasKids Foundation:

Linda Little information:

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Never-Ending Battle

When we were told to march down this sometimes rocky path, we did not know all that we would encounter along the way.One of the biggest battles is getting media coverage for our missing loved ones, particulary the adults, with males having the worst "track record", so to speak.

Out of the last several press releases I have attempted, only one netted one a story on a local TV station. The rest are ignored.

Tonight I attempted to help a family in the L.A. area. I sent out the following letter to the media:

" Today I was going through the Google news hits looking for missing persons. I came across a fair amount of them, as I usually do, mostly missing children and women. There were only a couple of young men, both of whom appeared to have been victims of drowning. Most notably though, was that space was devoted to two separate missing dog stories and even one about a missing lizard. And, of course, there was the Natalee Holloway coverage.

One must ask the question why missing men are consistently ignored when it comes to media coverage. Do we feel that because they are men, they could not possibly have been a victim of some sort? Are men loved less than women by their friends and family?

While we sincerely hope that Natalee is still alive, her family has received resources that are not afforded to the typical family of a missing person. There came a time in that story when her family had more than enough help. The typical citizen watching the coverage on Natalee was powerless to help her, other than to pray.

Local media all over the country continued to air her story, and none were observed using that opportunity to showcase any one of the hundreds if not thousands of missing persons right there in their own community. Many of these families receive no assistance or media attention whatsoever.

If we only could reach you and help you to understand the opportunity you have to actually make a difference. When covering one of these "hot" stories like Natalee's, you could even just briefly, show photos and basic information on at least one or two missing persons in your local area, asking the public to help by placing posters and looking out for these persons. What a tremendous difference this could make!

Even right now in your community, there is a family in pain because their son, their brother, and their friend has been missing without a trace since April 12th, 2005. They have pleaded for media coverage and received only one story in a newspaper.

Robert Spellman is 27 years old, with brown hair and blue eyes. He is 5' 8", and weighs 165 lbs. He was last seen in Sherman Oaks, CA, and was possibly wearing Nike Shox shoes and carrying an Addias bag. If you have seen Robert, please call the Los Angeles Police Dept at 213-485-5381. Robert's sister, Tracy, will be happy to provide additional details. You may reach Tracy at XXX-XXX-XXXX.

I challenge you to provide more even coverage of missing person's cases regardless of sex, race, age, or circumstance. A story about my organization with a mention of Robert was recently in the USA Today. It highlighted the lack of media attention for missing males.

Please consider helping this family, and the countless others missing, by adopting a fair policy in regards to missing person's coverage. Thank you.

Kelly Jolkowski, Mother of Missing Jason Jolkowski
Voice for the Missing
President and Founder,
Project Jason "

Additional information about Robert can be found at the website created for him:
Robert's Tipline: 877-821-4631

I wonder what will happen next.

I will continue my campaign to encourage the media to provide equal coverage for all missing persons.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Why are we here?

This is to ask the age old question.

We are here because God put us here, and sometimes, while we are here, things happen that don't seem right. Things like having someone you love mysteriously vanish without a trace.

That is what happened to us. It was more than four years ago, and to this day, we do not have a clue as to what happened to our son, Jason.

He's gone. I didn't get to say goodbye to him and give him one last hug. I don't get to hear his voice on the phone and I don't get to write him a letter that I know he will read. There is just emptiness, heartache, and fear that doesn't go away.

We decided that we could not sit back and do nothing. We had to share what we learned about having a missing loved one with the world. We were given our marching orders from Above whether we liked it or not.

And march on we did. We passed a law in our state called Jason's Law which establishes a full service missing person's clearinghouse. We also started a nonprofit organization to assist families of the missing, which is Project Jason.

In these writings, I will share the day to day happenings within our organization, and the stories of the missing. There is, unfortunately, a never-ending supply of these stories.You will laugh and you will cry. You will also never forget what you read here.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Jason's Birthday Remembrance

On the night of my birthday, June 22, 1981, I went to the movies with my husband, Jim, and my mom and dad. The movie we chose to attend was the very first of the new Superman movies, starring Christopher Reeve as the “man of steel”. I was 9 months pregnant with Jason. We were in the midst of watching the movie, when I felt a trickle of liquid that I knew had to be my water starting to break. As it never broke and was just an occasional trickle, I didn’t want to ruin the movie for everyone by insisting on leaving, so we finished watching it, and then went home. (Whenever I see Christopher Reeve in that role, or Superman, I think of Jason.)

My water was not breaking, and the trickle had stopped, so we went about our business at home. I went to bed, but woke up in the middle of the night with what I was sure must be labor pains. I tried to go back to sleep, but I could not. I was confused by the pains, because they were constant, not intermittent, as we were taught in Lamaze class. I tried all sorts of tricks we were taught to either get the pain to subside, or be able to ignore it, but nothing was working.At about 4am, I woke Jim up and told him that I was in labor, but because there was no break in the pain, I could not be for sure how soon the baby would come, so I thought it best that we went to the hospital.

At the hospital, time dragged on and on. The pain never subsided, nor did my water fully break. The next morning, the doctor broke my water. After that, the labor pains intensified, and I finally started to dilate, but I never progressed past five on the scale. I was becoming rather weary from lack of sleep and the continual pain. I did not understand why I did not have labor pains like everyone else with breaks in the pain. No one else understood either. At some point, they finally gave me a pain reliever, but it was not strong enough. By the afternoon of the 23rd, there was growing concern about the situation, as I now had a fever, and I did not dilate past five. They took an x-ray of my pelvis to see if they could determine the reasons behind what was happening. They did not come to any conclusions from the x-ray results. They also were concerned because of air reaching the baby, since my water was broke, and my fever continued. Sometime late that day, it was decided that I would have a c-section in the early morning, because they could not wait any longer.

I don’t think I slept at all, as I had been in pain for 36 hours with no relief, and I was very concerned about what was happening to me and our baby. In the morning, they asked if I wanted to be awake during the c-section. I was so tired, that I told them to put me to sleep. I was also nervous about the surgery, as I had never had to stay in a hospital or have surgery in my entire life. I figured it was better, for those reasons, to not be awake. (I did choose to be awake for the birth of my second son, Michael, but that was a planned c-section.)

When I awoke, I was in recovery. I was told that Jason had been taken to another hospital, because they had a special neo-natal section, and the one I went to did not. They told me they were giving him anti-biotics as a precaution. As I had just gone through a traumatic labor and then surgery, I had a harder recovery. I was not allowed to go and see him, and they did not release him to come back to the hospital I was in. That first night, I remember lying awake, listening to the sounds of the hospital, longing to see my son. A hot tear rolled down my cheek, as I listened to the sounds of other babies and their mothers cooing softly to them in the night.

It was five days before they allowed me to go and see Jason in the other hospital. I slowly made my way to him. He was lying in the incubator with several tubes extending from him for the antibiotics and liquids. His eyes were closed, but I could still see that he was beautiful. They did not allow me to hold him. I could only try to stroke his little body with my hands. I wondered if he could sense that his mother had finally come to see him, and that it was her hands that tried to find a way to let him feel love.

It would never be fully understood or known why the labor happened as it did. As Jason grew, it was clear something was wrong. It was thought that he has slight brain damage from the labor and the fever. This resulted in his having learning disabilities in the areas of speech and language, plus some fine motor coordination issues.I wrote this in regards to his learning disabilities. It appears on his featured profile on the National Center for Missing Adults site at

“Jason has learning disabilities in the areas of speech and language. His brain does not process things the way most do. People who didn’t know him would often make fun of him. School bullies would pick on him. Some thought he is mildly mentally retarded, but the truth is, he is of above average intelligence. What was truly amazing to me was that he chose a career that flew right into the face of the very thing that was hardest for him. He decided to be a radio D.J.. Sure, he had some glitches along the way, but people grew to respect him and to love him. Who wouldn’t? I am so proud of him.”

A day later I was released from the hospital, and then a couple of days later, Jason was finally allowed to come home. We were now all together, a family unit whose bond could never be broken regardless of distance or time. Little did we know that this bond would be altered almost 20 years later, as Jason disappeared 11 days before his 20th birthday.Just as I hoped nearly 24 years ago that my touch could be felt by him, and that he knew I was his mother, I now reach out to him and hope that he knows how much I love him. Somehow, I think he does.

Written on 6/24/05
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