Why I Speak Up for Black and Missing
As the new national spokeswoman for the Black & Missing Foundation, Jacque Reid wants to highlight the missing-persons cases not covered in the media.
Wilson is a former police officer who now works as a government investigator. Her co-founder, Natalie Wilson, is her sister-in-law and a public relations expert. Both are mothers with full-time jobs but still find time to try to save lives and support victims' families, who often need counseling and social services.
"A big part of our job is raising money for these families. Phylicia Barnes' father moved to Baltimore [where she went missing] and spent most of his days looking for her. That dedication makes it difficult for many to maintain a job," says Natalie. "Other families need help with sudden burial costs." While BAMFI did not donate money to Barnes' family, it helped them coordinate television and print interviews, including one in Ebony magazine.
In addition to helping mothers and fathers of missing teens who might need assistance, BAMFI increases awareness for family members who are raising the children of missing persons. Such is the case with the children of Shaquita Yolanda Bell, who disappeared in 1996.
"Her parents are now raising her three daughters," Natalie says. "They were preparing for retirement on a fixed income, and now they're trying to raise three girls as well as prepare to send them to college."
I asked about the impact of dealing with such tragedy on a daily basis. Derrica says that her time as a police officer helps her adjust and stay focused. But for Natalie, a mother of four, it is much more challenging.
"I am still coming to terms with the stories that I hear," she says. "It is often very raw. I've become overly sensitive, and now I am well aware of where my kids are at all times."