Linda Miers and Rose Madsen both understand the somber feelings that come with losing a loved one.
In the span of 11 years Miers has lost two daughters to violence in San Bernardino. Her younger daughter Melanie was shot and killed during a drive by in 2005, and her oldest daughter Michelle was attacked and murdered inside her apartment back in July 2014.
“It was bad enough losing one daughter,” said Miers. “Just when I was starting to feel better about life again, my other daughter was killed.”
Madsen lost her daughter, Jennifer LeAnne Balber, on November 10, 1994 in a drive by shooting in Rialto.
Both women–with the help of the community–are providing spaces for parents with similar experiences to come together to heal. They are both survivors, the term that describes those who are left behind to deal with the grief of tragedy and violence.
“One will never be the same again,” Madsen explained. “But it’s important we work with the families of murder victims to be at peace and have hope.”
Madsen was honored by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office on Monday during a ceremony held at the San Bernardino County Government Center to launch the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Hundreds of people–from family members of victims to law enforcement officers and city officials–were present to hear words of support from District Attorney Michael Ramos.
“Many of you sitting here today didn’t ask to be a part of this club, he explained. “It was something that happened to you that forced you into this system. It is our duty to make sure that we gain your trust.”
Ramos praised Madsen’s work by explaining how her resiliency as a survivor motivates him to continue to help those affected by the loss of a loved one.
“She has used her energy to fight for families and friends of murder victims,” Ramos affirmed. “She has served victims with tremendous passion. If you need some help, please contact her.”
Madsen said she was humbled by Ramos’ words and recognition, but stressed the real recognition is attributed to the Friends and Family of Murder Victims (FFMV)–the organization she helps lead.
“It takes a group of people to work together to provide a comfort of hope,” she said. “A hope for a better future and peace.”
Miers, as the new leader of the Parents of Murdered Children (POMC) Inland Empire chapter, said she aims to provide a safe space where family and friends of murder victims could share their experiences.
“I’m just a simple person who wants to do more to help others,” she said.
San Bernardino resident Marilyn Necochea, who lost her sister, Michele Flores, to a tragic murder in Tijuana, Mexico almost 20 years ago, is working with both organizations to receive healing and circulate petitions to prevent the parole of her sister’s murder
“I’m amazed of all the people with hearts out there,” said Necochea of the support provided by the FFMV and POMC. “I didn’t realize how much people care about survivors. Many of us have suffered in silence, but now we’re encouraged to speak.”
The POMC has a meeting scheduled for Monday April 11 at 6 p.m. at the Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral, located at 2525 N. Arrowhead Avenue. For more information, contact Linda Miers at (909) 653-7236.
The FFMV holds a meeting the first Tuesday of the month at the Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church, located at 12745 Oriole Avenue in Grand Terrace. For more information, contact Rose Madsen at (909) 754-6969.