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Advocates work to help families of crime victims

5:58 PM, Aug 27, 2013   |    comments
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Photo: Compassionate Families web site

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Over the past few months, one victims services program here on the First Coast said it's seen an increase in the number of families in need on help. 

Margie Brooks lost her 19-year-old son BJ nearly 6 years ago. He was shot and killed during an armed robbery at Mission Springs Apartment homes. It's a day she replays continuously in her head.

"That day, it seems as if he was just touching base with everybody," said Brooks.

She also remembers getting a call from someone at Compassionate Families. It's one of many groups in Jacksonville that works with family and friends of homicide victims, helping them to cope with tragedy.

"With Compassionate Families they knew our pain," said Brooks. "Because they've gone through what we've gone through."

A picture of 14-year-old Jeff Mitchell hangs on the walls at Compassionate Families. He was shot and killed in front of his high school during a robbery, about 20 years ago. His photo is among hundreds of other victims in the city. Mitchell's father helped to found Compassionate Families,

"We never close a file," said Glen Mitchell.

Those files have been adding up. Mitchell said over the past few months, they've served more families than normal.

"It does alarm us," said Mitchell. "It makes our challenges more pronounced."

Whether it's help with funeral arrangements, court escorts or counseling services, Mitchell said they're here. Always close enough to reach out and comfort the victims left behind.

"It has been therapeutic for me, because I can see that I am never alone," said Brooks.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office this time last year in 2012, there were 51 murders within the city. Right now, that number stands at 55.

To find out more about Compassionate Families, you can call 904-354-0007. For more information, visit their website.

First Coast News

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