Last week we needed to travel to Rochester for a doctor's appointment. Since we would be in town, I contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's (NCMEC)office. I've spoke with, emailed, and corresponded with many of the staff here yet had only met a couple. I explained why we would be in town and asked if it was possible for a tour and to stop in and say hello.
Their hospitality and excitement to have us visit is one of the many reasons we appreciate and value the NCMEC offices and staff.
Once we passed through security and climbed the steps into the office, my breath was taken away. At the top of the stairwell, the first of twenty missing children's flyers I saw was my sister's, Heidi M Allen. Her smile. I paused and lost track of my thoughts as Pam welcomed us. She noticed I was looking at the wall and she explained them, sadly, I don't remember all she said because I was still humbled to see Heidi's in the top right corner.
As I looked at the other flyers, tears warmed my eyes as I thought of some of the families we have met over the years, who loved one's flyers hung on the same wall with my sister. A powerful way to decorate the main lobby, a reminder of why NCMEC is there. Hope.
I posted the first photograph to Facebook as we made our return trip home and before we reached the house, families already commented. Something many don't realize, the family can recognize their loved one's missing person flyer from quite a distance away. Although the flyers are small and hard to recognize, to the family, you see your son, daughter, brother, sister, niece, nephew, and loved one instantly.
I spent a few moments at my arrival and before my departure studying this wall, praying for the missing, and their families. It's the least I can do...
"Pray without ceasing..." 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Pam Weaver, Director of Community Education, and our official tour guide for the day, welcomed us and introduced us to everyone in the office the day we were there. It was wonderful, to say the least, to meet so many of the people that I've only met virtually or over the phone. Each person in this office is as wonderful, caring, and wonderful as I thought they were.
At the end of our tour, I met my sister's NCMEC case manager. His care and concern for keeping Heidi's missing person's case up to date, while actively following any leads that cross his desk reminds me that God is at work all around me. Good out weighs the bad, it just doesn't always boast and brag to make the front page. I'm thankful for people like Mr. Storrs and others at NCMEC who dedicate their lives to find the missing, one of which is my sister, Heidi M Allen.
Mr. Storrs explained part of the process to us and then pointed to these files between his office and one of the other case managers. Do you know what these files contain? It will take your breath away, I know it did mine.
Each of these files are the missing children cases NCMEC has received this year. Yes, this year! These are not previous cases, or cold cases. We were there last week - so this is less than three months of NEW missing children cases. I had to hold back tears. Hanging above the files were some of the patches given to NCMEC after trainings from various law enforcement agencies across the state and beyond. I don't know if they planned the location yet I found it comforting.
There might be hundreds of new missing children cases filed in alphabetical order in two boxes yet above them, is a small representation of the men and women dedicating their lives to help solve their cases and bring them home. Hope looking down on the lost.
Our visit to the center was short on one hand yet left an emotional tattoo on our hearts, even now, almost a week later. So much love and hope within this organization. I'm grateful for the opportunity for us to visit the center, receive a tour, and personally thank some of the people who continue to educate, locate, search, organize, and dedicate lives to our children.
Without a prompt from us, they asked how we were doing since the 20 year anniversary of Heidi's abduction was approaching in April. We talked a little about this and I shared about our community gathering at the New Haven Fire Barn, on April 3, 2014, 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. to remember Heidi and keep the hope alive for her return. They wished us well and asked if there was anything they could do to help make the night more memorable. We asked if they would be interested in having an informational table for families.
Yesterday I received an email saying they will be able to do this! We are so excited and look forward to having NCMEC join us at the fire barn for the evening. They will have information about their "Take 25" campaign and other helpful information for children and families, to help keep our kids safe. I hope many will take time to go inside the fire barn on the third and visit their table and get some valuable information that is saving lives.
In addition to the NCMEC's table, the Oswego County Sheriff's Department will join us for the evening to do finger printing kits for the children in the area. If you haven't taken advantage of this free and priceless resource, then stop by on April 3rd for the social hour to remember Heidi and you can have your kiddos finger prints and photo taken at the same time.
Just a couple ways we, Heidi's family, hope to encourage and help keep our community safe.
Will you be able to join us on April 3, 2014?
Lisa M Buske
P.O. Box 323