by Logan Gruber
Jacob Wetterling turned 37 years old on Tuesday.
The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, founded by his parents Patty and Jerry Wetterling on Jan. 22, 1990, just four months after Jacob was abducted, is now 25 years old.
The story of Jacob’s abduction and the subsequent search for him are indelibly marked into the memories of most, if not all, area residents. While Jacob has never been found, the JWRC has been a beacon of hope to countless families during the past quarter century.
On Tuesday, supporters gathered at the Minneapolis office of Gundersen Health, which merged with the JWRC in 2013, to honor the hope and help that has been provided to thousands. Both Patty and Jerry were on hand to comment on the anniversary, and Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges wrote a proclamation recognizing the work the JWRC has done.
“Our work at the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center has always been about providing hope: in the form of advocacy services to those in need, in educational services for those wanting to prevent crimes against children, and in our efforts in prevention,” said Alison Feigh, program manager for the JWRC in a statement.
The center provides assistance to families through their expertise and emotional support during the difficult process of locating a missing child or finding support for exploited children.
With Gundersen Health, they provide educational curriculum to front-line child-protection professionals to prepare them to recognize and report the abuse of a child.
According to the organization’s website, Gundersen staff have trained more than 100,000 child-protection professionals in all 50 states, as well as 17 countries.
An outpouring of support for both Jacob and the JWRC appeared both at the event, as well as online. Below are an anonymous selection of some comments posted to the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center Facebook page:
- “Such amazing people [the Wetterlings] are, to take a tragedy and create something good out of it. They are heroes to me.”
- “Our family wants to thank the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center and everybody else who provided help, prayers and shares in finding [my daughter]. God bless you, every single one of you. I could not have done this all by myself. Thank you so much once again.”
- “I think of Jacob often. I was able to volunteer with his parents early in the investigation. I pray you come home.”
You can contact the JWRC on Facebook, by heading to its website, gundersenhealth.org/ncptc/jacob-wetterling-resource-center, or by calling 800-325-HOPE.
Young people and families are also encouraged to take the safety quiz located on the back page of this paper. Have a family member email your name, phone number and town by noon Monday, March 2 to email@example.com for a chance to win one of 100 child ID safety kits that will be distributed through the Newsleader.