CHARLOTTE — Wednesday is a bittersweet anniversary; while it’s the 30th anniversary of the Mothers of Murdered Offspring organization, it is also the 30th anniversary of the death of Shawna Hawk, whose family started the group to cope with and navigate their grief.
Channel 9′s Erica Bryant illustrates how the nonprofit has supported thousands of hurting families for the past three decades and their future plans to evolve and expand their reach.
Bryant spoke with Hawk’s mother, Dee Sumpter, who says she still has a “hole in her heart” after her daughter was killed by a serial killer in Charlotte in 1993.
“I just don’t want anyone else to feel what I am feeling in my heart. Murder’s wretched, it’s horror, and it’s painful,” Sumpter told Bryant.
(WATCH BELOW: The history of MOM-O)
Sumpter, along with Hawk’s godmother, Judy Williams, turned their grief and heartache into action by starting the Mothers of Murdered Offspring, or MOM-O, group. The group was started as a way for mothers and family members to come together and talk about their pain in a healthy environment and restructure their emotions to promote love and positivity in the community.
“I wanted moms and family members to come together and talk about their pain, and after we talk about it, recycle it back out into the community in the form of love,” Sumpter said.
Over the past three decades, MOM-O has helped more than 3,000 families. Bryant met with the current MOM-O Executive Director, Lisa Crawford, who took her to the organization’s storage unit, where 30 years of stories live.
Crawford showed Bryant binders from each year dedicated to victims; they were overflowing with the victim’s pictures, handwritten notes from loved ones, and police reports.
“This is 30 years of work, support, and a lot of love in here,” Crawford said.
MOM-O supports the victim’s family with everything from the big things like planning a funeral to their daily needs afterward.
The organization is also looking toward the future and helping even more families; their goal is to raise $300,000 to fund what they’re calling MOM-O 2.0. The funds will also help the organization focus more on violence protection and hire full-time staff.
“We’re all volunteers,” Crawford told Bryant, “and we do this work because we love it. But it’s not sustainable. We can’t continue to do it this way.”
Although this day is a harsh reminder of her loss, Sumpter is as hopeful as ever about what the community will gain from her.
“It ignites my spirit and soul; it’s given us a new wind, if you will,” Sumpter said.
You can donate to MOM-O or provide support by visiting this link.
(WATCH BELOW: Mothers of Murdered Offspring started in wake of Henry Wallace’s murder spree)
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