Last week was one of those that we will remember for a long time. It began on Monday with our trip to the Oregon State Sheriffs Association in Bend, Oregon. months ago when we first learned of the conference we knew it was something that we wanted to attend. we had been planning to start going out to agencies next year to tell about our services and promote our Search Ready Communities. Just months after the search for Kaylee Sawyer which launched our new online system when we learned this conference was in her town we knew that was a sign that it was where we needed to be.
Monday we got checked into the event and set up our table. Elise, our Director of Social Media and myself Damon, Director of Operations were ready to tell the Sheriffs and Search and Rescue agencies and groups all about what we do and how it can benefit their work in missing person situations. What we had not planned for is the networking with other vendors at the event. One of these was another nonprofit called the Guardian Group who focus on fighting Sex Trafficking. We had some discussion on how missing person cases and the sex trafficking industry can at times cross paths. Our opening dialogue on how we may be able to assist each other was unexpected and we look forward to continuing the discussions with them.
Tuesday was when the event really got going. We spoke to quite a few representatives from the attending agencies. As was somewhat expected in our internal planning they have some concerns and we will have a bit of an uphill battle to really get connected with them. Some of the items they are worried about in using spontaneous community volunteers are things like them hindering the investigation, disturbing evidence, and safety. We addressed in more depth but our general answer is that having an organized search such as we are able to provide is a step up from the community just going it on its own as happens in many cases.
Even though there was still skepticism I think overall most agencies did understand our points and see the potential value in using a system like ours. One of the people that we spoke to was Sheriff Danny Glick who was not from Oregon but from Wyoming and is President of the Western States Sheriffs Association. Sherriff Glick was interested in what we do and we had a good chance to tell him about our services. though we have to wait for details and work on confirmation he invited us to attend their conference next year. The opportunity to speak to agencies from fifteen states is something that is extraordinary and we look forward to working on confirming the event in the near future.
Though the conference was important Tuesday night and then Wednesday was what we had most looked forward to. Tuesday night Elise and I were able to have dinner with Kaylee’s mother and talk more about her, what we do, our plans, and other things. It was a wonderful evening and we both treasure it. Wednesday brought us two incredible moments that we had looked forward to the most. A while ago we announced the creation of the Kaylee Sawyer Award for Appreciation.
Our first recipient was Stackhouse Coffee. During the search for Kaylee, our initial search center was located a bit out from where we needed to send volunteers to canvas. A couple of hours into the search the volunteer who was working as the coordinator on site called me and asked if a second registration site would work. This is something we had never even considered doing in the past when we were using paper and pen forms. I knew that the cloud-based technology we now used made it possible but had never worked on a plan for implementing it. We went ahead and decided to give it a try and Stackhouse Coffee became a remote registration site. It worked perfectly. This opened up an entirely new method of running search operations and has now led to many other ideas and procedures we have implemented or are developing.
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Our second award was presented later that afternoon to Awbrey Dental Group. This was selected by Kaylee’s family for several reasons. When Kaylee was missing Awbrey dental shut down all operations so its staff could volunteer. They knew Kaylee well as this was where she worked and was loved by all of the other employees. The second reason was from after Kaylee had been found. Awbrey dental has put together a scholarship in her name that will be awarded next year in her honor.
We were so thankful and honored that Kaylee’s family were able to be there and help present both of these awards. It was a very emotional time for all of us but we are motivated to continue growing to help honor the legacy of all of the families we have served. It was a very important week for Destiny Search Project and has given us, even more, motivation to push forward in what we do.