Looking for People and Answers
You see it in movies all the time. From It’s a Wonderful Life to Spiderman II, the heroic figure who has labored on behalf of others for years suddenly finds him/herself in a bind and “the people” become aware of their hero’s plight and step up to help the one who has always been there to help them. The only problem with this feel-good ending is that it rarely happens in real life. Whether it’s a veteran living on the streets or “everyone’s Mom” struggling with health issues and bills she can’t afford because she’s spent her life doing for others, humanity has a bad habit of leaving its heroes in a lurch.
So, as the holiday season winds down and we begin thinking about our 2012 challenges and opportunities, I'd like to ask you to take a moment to help one such hero who has earned a break from her misfortunes.
Quick story, then a small plea:
Kym Pasqualini, founder of both the National Center for Missing Adults and former CEO of the Nation’s Missing Children Organization, has done more than any individual or organization I know of on behalf of the families of missing Americans. Whether collaborating with law enforcement, lobbying in Washington, or attending to families of the missing, she has been a powerful force for positive change in the way missing-persons cases are handled in the U.S. And when the NCMA lost its federal funding and as donations to all nonprofits have dried up during the recent financial and economic crisis, Kym carried the organization on her own shoulders, funding it out of her own pocket until she made a most difficult decision to sign National Center for Missing Adults into a merger with another nonprofit to give it a chance to survive and grow. As a result, this single mother and grandmother has gone from being a homeowner with a pristine credit history to a person with debt in the tens of thousands who cannot find gainful employment because credit checks have become a routine part of the hiring process – and, trust me, no one cares WHY or HOW you got into debt. They just look at your number. The financial institutions, with their warm, fuzzy TV commercials about wanting to be part of your community, even part of your family – well, anyone who has ever been in a financial jam knows what fickle family members they become when the going gets tough.
Before you draw any analogies between Kym’s activities and mine, please stop. I, like most people in the missing-persons world, was sucked into it by a personal loss. Kym had no such loss. She had no motivation to take on the burden of helping families of the missing other than, once she knew the problem existed, she couldn’t un-know it. And while I frequently feel sorry for myself and wonder how I’ll get out of the financial hole my family’s situation got me into, Kym and her daughter have been through far more hardship in the service of this cause than I and my family have been and more than anyone should. After several periods of uncertainty and even homelessness, they now are struggling to stay in their home while continuing to help the families of the missing. For all that, I wouldn’t know about the extent of her financial straits if I hadn’t called her in the middle of a particularly bad pre-Christmas day. Now I know, and I can’t un-know. And now you know.
We are all inundated this time of year with pleas for donations, many of them clearly worthy, some of questionable veracity. There is a lot of need out there. If you don't already know about what Kym has sacrificed and accomplished on behalf of families of the missing and the issues that exacerbate their pain, please take a few minutes to read the following articles:
These are just a few examples.
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen Kym referred to as an “angel”, I could give every dollar to her and wipe out her debts so she could get back to being the effective advocate she has always been. The trouble with calling her an angel is that angels, if they exist, are supernatural beings that don’t require food and shelter and don’t have anyone depending on them for their most basic daily needs. Kym and her daughter have just had the most materially meager Christmas of their lives and are looking at potentially starting 2012 homeless again. Every moment Kym is struggling to keep some kind of roof over their head and food in their stomachs is not only an affront to any notion of fairness and decency in the universe – it’s also time and energy wasted that she would otherwise be devoting to her calling.
If I’ve learned anything from my family’s ordeal, it is this: Nothing good happens in this world without some individual pushing a heavy load uphill. Kym has been pushing this load a long time, and she still has a lot of energy left to champion the interests of families of the missing. Please help her get back in the saddle by sending whatever you can afford to:
Desert Schools Federal Credit Union
Routing # 122187238
Acct. # 1094181680
Or, if you prefer, you can send a check to:
PO Box 43137 Phoenix, AZ
Thank you, with blessings and positive energy for the new year.
The Missing Americans Project