It's an organization group leaders would rather never have to form.
But as David Rucker knows all too well, the need to support parents, families, and friends of murder victims is real.
Nearly a decade after the local chapter of Parents of Murdered Children disbanded, new members have reorganized the group. Mr. Rucker, whose 22-year-old son was murdered in 1992, is a co-leader of the group that will meet for the first time tonight.
Parents of Murdered Children will meet the third Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Eleanor M. Kahle Senior Center, 1315 Hillcrest Ave.
"It causes those who are alive to re-evaluate their life," said Mr. Rucker, who plans on organizing a monthly support group. "People need to know that no matter what, somebody cares."
Parents of Murdered Children Inc. has more than 300 chapters or contact people throughout the country and in Canada. Formed in 1978 in Cincinnati by Charlotte and Robert Hullinger, the national organization has about 200,000 people in its nationwide database.
But there are many more who likely need the support, said Sharon Tewksbury, the organization's national volunteer coordinator. The goal is to provide a safe place for survivors to go where they'll get time and help dealing with their loss.
Ms. Tewksbury said chapters meet monthly for survivors, provide a telephone network of support, and supply information about the grief process.
"That hole in their heart is going to be there. It's how they deal with it, whether they let it get the best of them or whether they get the help and support they need," she said. "We don't want to be crutches. We want to give them a place where they can come and be safe, and no one will tell them they should be over it in six months."
Russ Simpson knows what it's like to be a shoulder to cry on. In April, 1983, he helped organize a Toledo area chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, only a few years after the Hullingers organized their first meeting after their daughter was killed by her boyfriend.
Back then, Mr. Simpson recalled, there was no formal training, but the concept remained the same. Only those who had endured the heartache of a murdered child could understand what another parent was experiencing.
Since then, the organization has grown to involve other family members and friends of murder victims. Now each leader of a chapter must go through an intense training program. The organization expanded its scope and is involved in a program to block murderers from receiving parole; a speaker's bureau, and a murder response team for communities that may need it.
The father of two murdered children, Mr. Simpson said he was saddened when the group disbanded years ago after failing to file paperwork with the national organization. He could not recall when that happened.
"We are desperately in need for a chapter in Toledo and northwest Ohio. We've had [multiple] shootings in the last week alone," he said. "They know that I'm here and I'll give them all the help and advice that I have."
For more information, go online at: www.pomc.org.
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