Honor Your Loved One: MADD Mid-Atlantic 2nd Annual Virtual Candlelight Vigil set for Sunday, April 24, 2022

Robin M. Stimson, LMSW

Every April, the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) leads communities throughout the country in their annual observances of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW). Various advocates, agencies, and organizations across the country commemorate and honor those that were injured, killed, or missing as a result of a crime.

Since 1981, NCVRW is a time when we all can take the time to renew our commitment to serve victims of crime, acknowledge the achievements in victim services and allied professions, honor those who have gone above and beyond in their service to others, and remember crime victims and survivors. NCVRW includes several days of memorials, vigils, ceremonies, victim-advocacy-based training, webinars, and conferences. This year, the 2022 NCVRW theme is Rights, access, equity, for all victims. Per the OVC website, the theme “underscores the importance of helping crime survivors find their justice by enforcing victims’ rights; expanding access to services; and ensuring equity and inclusion for all.”

Mothers Against Drunk Driving Mid-Atlantic Region is privileged to mark this important occasion with our 2nd Annual Virtual Candlelight Vigil. The ceremony for impaired driving survivors will take place on Sunday, April 24, 2022, at 5 pm (EST). This year, the theme for MADD’s memorial is Red Poppies, which symbolize remembrance and hope for a peaceful future. During the event, we will honor and celebrate the lives of those who have been injured or killed due to drunk and drugged driving on our region’s roadways. The vigil marks a time to reflect and connect to one another as we work to secure a future of No More Victims ©.

Last year, we were amazed by the overwhelming number of attendees and the positive response. We are hoping the 2022 event provides an even better opportunity to heal and connect with one another. Our entire staff is committed to ensuring that our speakers and musical contributions will,  once again, highlight our victim’s incredible personal courage and aim to inspire renewal. This year we are so excited and proud to feature a keynote address from MADD Maryland volunteer, Natalie McCarter and others who will share stories about their loved ones, their grief and healing journey, and voice how they honor their loved ones every day. We are also thrilled that the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office Prosecutor, and 2021 MADD Maryland Service Award recipient, Carolynn Grammas will also be on hand to open the event with words of hope for victims and their families. We are grateful to be able to, once again feature MADD National President, Alex Otte and Azrael Franz Personal Injury Attorney and MADD Mid-Atlantic Service Award recipient, Keith Franz, Esq. Also on hand will be long-time MADD Virginia volunteer, Debbie Sausville. Click here to register for the event (required). If you would like to include a photo of your loved one that could be included in our memorial slideshow, please contact us for the next steps and more information.

Also in April, the Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) will hold their 32st Annual Memorial Services for Crime Victims and Their Families. Each year, their memorial services mark the beginning of Maryland’s observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and feature inspirational speakers, musical performances, and quiet reflection. Having been to the event in the past, it’s both touching and bittersweet to hear from family members and advocates read the names of over 4,000 Maryland homicide, vehicular manslaughter, and missing crime victims. If you have not yet done so, you can register your loved one’s name to be read at the memorial service and ensure you receive an invitation every year. Please be aware that once you have registered your loved one’s name, their name(s) will remain on the list permanently. For more information and the form, please email GOCCP’s Rebecca Allyn at [email protected].

MADD Mid-Atlantic Victim Services wants to remind you that we are here for you throughout the month of April with various ways to commemorate the week which include (but are not limited to) on-theme social media posts, law enforcement checkpoints, roadside monuments, proclamations, videos, and awards. We hope these and other events promote hope, connection and are a source of healing for survivors. The vigil is a special way to share memories and provide a path to make sure their lives and memory will continue on. MADD is honored to walk with survivors during this week, and all year long.