Missing and Exploited Children's Association of Maryland celebrates 20 years

Despite loss of leader, group continues to fight for Maryland childrens' safety

November 11, 2005- In 1985, three women in Lutherville began the organization after deciding to make Maryland a safer place for children after seeing pictures of a missing child in grocery store. Anne Lane Vosough met with friends Pat Gary and Joan Taavon and together they launched MECA. Joining them was Lou Ellen Griffin, whose son Jamie Griffin, a Dulaney Valley High School student, had disappeared in 1983. Jamie remained missing for 12 years until his body was discovered at Gunpowder State Park in 1995.

Other families of missing persons have been active in MECA since the near beginning. Pat Stevenson, of Dundalk, joined the organization in 1986 after her daughter Bernadette Caruso disappeared in Essex. For years, Pat organized yearly masses for families of missing persons in the state. Now homebound, Pat provides telephone support for families of the missing. Her daughter remains missing.

For the last 20 years, MECA has partnered with the Maryland Center for Missing Children which opened also in 1985, the Maryland State Police, Baltimore County Police, and numerous other police agencies to provide support for families of missing persons. Its organization has testified before local and federal lawmakers for funding, education, and prevention of missing children. MECA holds yearly conference to train law enforcement and social services on new missing children programs and policies, and is active in the community to educate parents on safety tips. MECA is also a member of AMECO, a national collaboration of missing children organizations.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice there were 797,500 children reported missing in 2002.

Non-family abduction - 12,100
Family abduction - 56,500
Runaway/throwaway - 357,600
Missing: involuntary, lost or injured - 61,900
Missing, benign explanation - 340,500

Joan Taavon was President of MECA until November 19 of last year, when she was killed on Dulaney Valley Road by a drunk driver. Pat Gary, a long-time treasurer and original member, died November 3rd of this year.

MECA is a totally volunteer organization. MECA is always happy to have new volunteers join its ranks. Further information can be found on the MECA Website http://www.mecamd.com/. If you are interested in volunteering with MECA contact us by emailing anneb@mecamd.com or calling 410-560-0334.

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