Help Hotline event honors Fife, victims

By William K. Alcorn


Victims of crime, personified by Miriam Fife and representatives of the Sandy Hook Promise, were honored guests at Help Hotline Crisis Center’s 2015 Victims of Crime luncheon.

Fife, whose son, Raymond, 12, was tortured, raped and killed in southwest Warren in 1985, turned her grief and ability to identify with other victims of crime to become the first volunteer victim-witness advocate with the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office.

Later, when grant money became available, she became a paid employee charged with the same task.

Fife was presented a Certificate of Appreciation at Wednesday’s luncheon at the Holiday Inn for her service to victims of crimes. During her 29 years in the position before her recent retirement, she also was a force that helped change Ohio’s law to make it possible for victims of offenses committed by juveniles to speak at the offender’s trial and sentencing.

Other law changes followed that gave the public better access to information about juvenile offenses.

After the event, Fife, a 1958 graduate of Warren G. Harding High School in Warren, said being raised in a strong family and her faith in God enabled her not only to endure the pain of her son’s death, but face it and life head-on and try to make a difference.

She urged parents and grandparents to “get their heads out of the sand.”

“We have so much violence in the nation and in the Mahoning Valley,” Fife said. “You can’t raise your children and grandchildren safely if you don’t know what is going on.”

Fife said she was so impressed with the Sandy Hook Promise, an organization working to protect children from gun violence in the aftermath of the shooting deaths of 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012, that she signed up to help.

A video was shown of Nicole Hockley, whose autistic son, Dylan, 6, was one of those killed at Sandy Hook, who described her feelings and determination to fight gun violence.

“Two years ago, I was a happy wife and mother ... just another mom who knew nothing about social change and politics. Then my world changed forever. There are no words to describe my grief,” Hockley said.

She has channeled her pain into fighting to end gun violence, and she urged everyone to get involved.

“It can happen to anyone at any time. It’s a problem we all share and one we can do something about. I have dedicated my life to Sandy Hook Promise,” she said.

“We want to shift the conversation from guns to identifying the causes of gun violence” through early identification and intervention, reduced social isolation and gun safety by keeping guns safe and secure, said Paula Fynboh, national field director for Sandy Hook Promise.

Youngstown Police Lt. Brian Flynn, head of the department’s Family Service Unit, said the unit’s goals are to get justice for victims of crime and support them and help them get back on their feet.

Crime rates go up and down. But one constant is helping victims of crime by letting them know their rights and resources that are available, Flynn said.

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