Three girls were recently rescued from their captor of 10 years and all of America rejoiced for the return of these missing persons.
For one local woman who has looked at pictures of two of the young ladies for almost as many years as they have been missing, she sometimes feels she knows them personally. For Carey Colvin marking them FOUND on the 411GINA.org website is one of the biggest thrills of her job, especially when the found status comes because the missing person is alive and has survived.
Colvin is the webmaster for an organization that works to help find missing persons. It’s really a hard job to do. “Anyone who goes missing is important,” said Colvin. “The average person doesn’t think about it.”
Colvin lives with the missing people every single day. Her role for 411GINA.org has her intimately familiar with every single detail that is publicly available of each of the approximately 750 people that are on the website.
411GINA.org has been Colvin’s baby since about 2006, when the site only included 60 missing persons, and she was asked to help with it. The organization was started around 2001 after Jannel Rap’s sister, Gina Bos, disappeared outside a night spot where she was performing. In Gina’s honor, her sister created Greater Information Now Available (GINA for Missing Persons FOUNDation). The 411GINA.org website is a part of that effort.
The GINA Foundation also conducts the annual Squeaky Wheel® Tour, an international tour made up of musicians from all over the world who profile missing persons during their shows to cast a spotlight on those who would not normally receive attention for their cases.
Colvin, a musician and accomplished artist, along with her husband, has done both roles for many years now. She has found her place with the music connection to the 411GINA.org and her own roots rock background as a performer. “I feel I am their advocate,” she said of the missing. “I stare at those faces day after day, year after year and I make sure their information is up-to-date and there is a missing flyer available and I do press releases and help to coordinate the musical tour to make people more aware of the missing.”
She advises everyone to look closely. “There are so many people out there that we don’t know where they are,” Colvin commented. “Now that we have the web we can share their stories and we can see that there are a lot of missing people.” Still, she asks that everyone “be aware and look into things.”
Before, Colvin said people could “only rely on their area, people only had their local media to turn to for help.” Now, she receives emails almost daily and spends a great deal of her time verifying the missing and checking leads people send in.
“It’s a boon now to help find the missing,” Colvin shared. “We verify everything and we require a police report to make sure no one is joking.” She said it doesn’t stop once the missing person is linked to 411GINA.org. “We strive to verify over and over again and make sure it’s accurate and stays accurate,” she shared.
The artists who are involved with 411GINA.org and the Squeaky Wheel tour show pictures of missing persons and take time from their own concerts to share information about the missing persons in an area where they are performing and pass out flyers. Colvin tells the story of a concert she was once doing in Florida where she featured a young man who lived in a group home who had disappeared. “The family had come out and not long after the concert his remains were discovered; I like to think that we brought awareness. I don’t know, but we like to think that there is some help there,” she said.
411GINA.org features the missing persons on the site in alphabetical order with a small thumbnail print. To find out more information, viewers can simply click on the thumbnail to receive more information and to print a missing flyer to pass around.
For Colvin, the music-tie is important. “It’s all a part of the music, musicians bringing to light missing persons,” she said. “GINA is an ongoing collective effort of the foundation, media, the public, entertainers, social media, the families of the missing and law enforcement to bring our missing home.”
She doesn’t take that mission lightly either. She talks of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Jaycee Dugard like she knows them. “I just about had a party when I put FOUND on Jaycee Dugard’s picture on the site,” Colvin said. “I feel like I know these people because I see them over and over again and I feel for the families.”
She talks of Jacob Wetterling, an 11-year old who was returning from the video store with his brother when they were attacked in some woods near their home and he was abducted back in 1989.
“There’s a missing person from right here in Chester,” Colvin said. “Janice Yvonne Johnson disappeared from right on Iron Bridge Road here in town.” Apparently, Johnson was last seen at a fast food restaurant in the area and her car was found in Mechanicsville. There was money taken from her bank account when she went missing in 2001.
“Awareness makes a big difference,” Colvin stated. “Pay attention to those flyers when you see them, you could be the missing link that helps return someone to their families.”
Since the return of the girls in Ohio, Colvin has been featured in the Richmond Times-Dispatch and on Channel 8 News. She said, “These girls return proves that you don’t know how you can help, proves that you can’t assume anything about where the missing are now.” She said it gets to her sometimes and “makes me feel sad and helpless.”
But then there are days like when the Ohio girls returned. “Be aware, you might see something that might help,” she said. “Right now everyone is excited about the return of these girls and it’s a miracle, but really…the daily existence of the missing is not exciting for their families, it’s endless sadness and not knowing where they are.”
411GINA and Colvin want everyone to remember, to date, over 1,100 missing people profiled collectively by GINA, GINA Artists, nonprofit partners, sponsors, media, law enforcement and families of the missing have been found. Please help to increase that number – keep those eyes open, spread the word, and remember the missing.
Colvin wants everyone to know that there are many more missing people out there. “Every one of those faces is someone’s loved one; it’s their daughter, son, father, brother, sister, mother and every missing person has a story.” She knows the faces of every single one of the approximately 750 “missings” - those people lost to their families and loved ones who will likely never come home to their parents, husbands, children, or best friend.
For more information go to 411GINA.org.