Patrick Gioia’s sister, Mary, was murdered in 1985 in California when she was 22 years old. Nearly 23 years later, Gioia, of Clifton Park, describes the pain of losing his sister to a violent crime as “a well inside him that never fills up.”
Gioia and dozens of other victims of crimes gathered Saturday afternoon to remember their loved ones and dedicate new bricks to the New York State Crime Victims’ Memorial.
“It’s cathartic to be here with other people who share the same pain and stories as you,” Gioia said.
The dedication ceremony was the culmination of a weeklong series of events celebrating Crime Victims’ Week in New York. The ceremony was meant to celebrate all those who suffer in the aftermath of violence, not just the victims but their family, friends and neighbors.
Tina Stanford, chairwoman of the New York State Crime Victims Board, gave the keynote address where she urged victims to help law enforcement officials help them.
“I understand that the network of officials cannot give you back what you’ve lost, but please, tell us what you need by sharing your stories,” she said.
She also urged victims to share their stories with each other in the hopes that it would help them heal.
“The story of the man next to you could give you hope, and the story of the woman in front of you could help you heal,” she said. “Learn from someone else and be stronger for it.”
Michael and Lisa Carey shared their story about their son, Jonathan Carey, who was autistic and nonverbal. He died in February 2007 at the hands of his caregivers at the O.D. Heck Developmental Center.
The Careys have set up the Jonathan Carey Foundation and have worked to pass Jonathan’s Law, which allows families to access records and be notified of incidents that occur while a family member is in a developmental or treatment facility.
“There is nothing more painful than losing someone in this way,” Lisa Carey said. “Not a day goes by that I don’t want to hold him and kiss him and tell him I love him.”
Lisa Carey said the only reason she has gotten through her loss was through belief in God and in heaven.
“Heaven is a real place, and I believe that the armies in heaven help us battle for justice,” she said.
Michael Carey became emotional while talking about his son, whose few words included “Daddy.” He said victims need to forgive those who have harmed them “so the pain doesn’t eat them from within.”
“Let’s work together and put a stop to as many of these horrific things as possible,” he said.
After the new names of this year’s victims were read, participants were able to share the names of their loved ones who were victimized. The line wrapped through the crowd, and the moment was emotional with tears and hugs as people said out loud the names of their loved ones and, hopefully, according to organizers, began to heal.
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Categories: Schenectady County