ClThe book was completed in time for the MESA 40th Anniversary. The organization which began in response to the abductions of Annabelle Kindig and Jessica Schaffner within two weeks after their abductions, was not only one of the first three in the nation to be organized to deal with victim services for sexual assault victims, it became a premier program and model for many that followed. Located in Boulder, Co. where the abductions happened, today it serves a thousand victims a month through its programs and crisis lines services.
MESA was gracious in inviting us to sign the books at the celebration, and Annabelle was to be the Keynote speaker. The venue was moved to the Luxury Hotel Boulderado to accommodate larger than anticipated attendance.
Along with Annabelle Kindig I was invited as a guest to stay at the Hotel by MESA. It is an extraordinary place being the first luxury hotel in Boulder and priding itself on having maintained the original part in pristine condition and the service still as impeccable. The staff wear their black and white attire lending to a sharp, identifiable presence, and they give maximum attention to detail. Original phones from the 1905 period are still used in the lobby, Otis the elevator still serves you, though there are more modern versions now available as well, but who could choose them over “Otis”? Oh, and did I mention the known haunted rooms?
The Lobby boast a one of a kind stained glass skylight dominating the ceiling and taking pictures made one literally dizzy from the overhead, dazzling and unforgettable curved stained glass ceilings..
The room accommodations vary from original to suites and rooms with extensive furnishings and room measurements to serve the guests in luxurious and spacious surroundings. Every public space was lavished with extensive displays of wonderful antique furnishings for seating and visiting in the most wonderful of Victorian settees and tables with antique lamps that had been electrified.
A particular thrill for me was that Annabelle and I would actually finally meet face to face, hug to hug. Yes, that is correct; we had written as co-author’s by phone and never met. Hour upon hour, we had talked, emailed, and had conferences but never together. It finally happened at the moment you see here.
It was the afternoon of the evening book signing at the event for MESA’s celebration. We were in the room where the signing would take place when we finally got to meet. She was much taller than I imagined.
That evening we gathered just past this sign to the event. Our families met; Trula Dee Ann Hensler, my oldest daughter from Wisconsin on the left, then Annabelle Kindig Miglia by her, (quickly adopted by mutual agreement thus giving me three daughters , Shannon Rae Butcher, my youngest daughter from Ohio, and the handsome, charming Dave Miglia, Annabelle’s wonderful husband who has played such an important role in her life. Enjoying the comforting support of his hand, is yours truly, Joyce Godwin Grubbs of Iowa. What a bunch we were for sure; it was as though we’d known each other for ever. Annabelle and I got right to work signing books for two solid hours in high gear in the most wonderful of circumstances.
To begin with right next to our signing table was a string ensemble which played until the program began.
While the music wafted throughout, Annabelle and I kept working hard. She met the most wonderful people from her past including a nurse that took care of her in Intensive Care when she was recovering from her wounds, the baby sitter who took care of Jessica Schaffner (the young friend/victim who did not survive) and so many others. It was an almost surreal time of greeting, grieving with some, and knowing that many including Annabelle, were experiencing some amount of closure after 40 years.
The bar was kept busy and mountains of fresh fruit-scapes were throughout the room with cheeses, hor dourves, chocolate covered strawberries and sweets were being served at a fast pace. Waiters walked through with platters of very large coconut shrimp, and more platters of petit fours which would also be circulated by those same staff during the program.
Others were in the Silent Auction room making bids for things that included an African Safari trip, trips to New York, New Orleans and pieces of art, personal items and jewelry. Various services were offered and resort stays were on the table.
More food abounded in the main room with Gourmet sliders featuring many kinds including my daughter’s favorites the Flat Iron Steak sliders, and some preferred the various vegetarian sliders.
It was an honor to have the Boulder County District Attorney present with five of his staff who are dedicated to the victim’s cases. He also introduced Annabelle Kindig on behalf of Former Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter who could not be present as he was out of the country. It was a warm and touching introduction written by Alex and presented with good humor by D.A. Stan Garnett who has been very proactive in keeping pressure on the prison system not to allow the perpetrator to be released on parole though he comes up yearly for a hearing.
Annabelle was well received and her final comments by Stan Garnett were that “she was responsible for the momentum behind MESA’s beginnings” and it’s focal point being maintained on the victim/survivors. (TO SEE HER SPEECH LOOK FOR THE YOU TUBE ON ANNABELLE KINDIG) .
Though we had intended to sign before the program and before Annabelle spoke, we found ourselves returning to the table and signing until 10 pm to accommodate all who wished to have books. In addition we were gratified that D.A. Garnett bought books for his staff, and MESA bought books for their volunteers. Truly it was a wonderful start in book sales that was only fitting as Annabelle could have held out on the publishing of her story to make money (and a good amount through traditionally publishing. She knew that as we discussed all the options.) However, she felt it was imperative to support this wonderful organization which had organized in reaction to the horrible events of her kidnapping, assault and she and Jessica being shot and left for dead in Sunshine Canyon. She moved heaven and earth, and an old lady’s heart to make this book a possibility, then championed the author when she fought through health events during the writing of the book. It was a mutual admiration society that developed as we forged on and that allowed us to do the unthinkable; complete a book in 10 months time.
Many days and nights were spent with this author on Skype interviewing and speaking with family members of Jessica and Annabelle’s family, rescuers, MESA staff, law enforcement and of course those two amazing and wonderful men, Former Boulder Co. District Attorney Alex Hunter, and Former Boulder Co. Sheriff Brad Leach. Each of those two gave a thousand percent effort on a personal and professional basis. As I learned about their involvement and then the continuum of their careers, I was humbled by their willingness to give so selflessly. I shall never forget them and what they gave to honor their first such case of their careers, and Annabelle Kindig.
We ended the evening in happy exhaustion, then took a few moments to regroup. The one thing I will never forget is the personal time with Annabelle, the “slumber party” with my girls and Annabelle “giggling” and the knowledge that truly and without question, God answered Annabelle’s prayers by bringing us together so that not only could she tell her story, have it done in time for MESA’s celebration, but through trained advocacy, I could bring a healing and long overdue breakthrough in her journey to recovery.
It also fulfilled for me a “Mountaintop experience in my writing career that has been dedicated to touching and enhancing the lives and recoveries of victim/survivors of rape/sexual assault and domestic violence. For me it was a night of great reward to have my daughters tell me they now truly understood why I spent more than 40 years working with victim/survivors, and why I had to tell their stories.
I close with this thought. “There is a torch to be passed when anything comes to an end that involved service.”
I am gratified to know that such programs as “The Voices and Faces Project” at Northwestern University is amping up the game by an organized, funded and sophisticated effort to help victim/survivors tell their own stories. I know this is a large part of the answer to getting the real stories out there, not just to educate people, but to give victim/survivors a place of understanding to continue their healing recoveries.
An end result in my belief system is that revealing the truth of the stories will eventually help our society create just punishment for offenders and perpetrators. I truly believe, however, that my “little contribution” in the form of telling real cases in story form (in my case the suspense,romance genres) will continue to impact victims . Those who read the books do so because they are a medium that attracts victim survivors when they would not otherwise pick up materials on the subject.
I hope there are writers and “story tellers” like myself who will continue to carry the torch forward. And for that, I thank you in advance. Author Joyce Godwin Grubbs, Author From the Grassroots.