As the year winds down and we find ourselves reflecting upon our own personal accomplishments, Natasha’s Justice Project is honored to have the opportunity to share with you what we have achieved as an organization fighting to end the nation’s rape kit backlog.
Since its creation in March 2011, Natasha Alexenko has worked endlessly to create an organization dedicated to exposing and eliminating the rape kit backlog that exists in public municipalities throughout the United States. This year, thanks to the great efforts of Natasha and those around her, NJP has taken a great step forward in achieving its mission: we proudly hired our first full-time employees, Lauren Cavalieri, Director of Operations, and Kristen Heide, Director of Development. We also welcomed on-board Richard Santengelo, our law enforcement liason. Every organization needs a successful team of professional, hardworking staff members, interns and volunteers and this year, it seems as if we have found that team!
Earlier this year, Natasha hit the road visiting college campuses along the East Coast, empowering survivors of sexual assault and educating audiences about the backlog. Stops along her college tour included Stony Brook University, University of Delaware and George Washington University.
Following a speaking appearance at the California Association of Criminalists DNA Workshop in San Jose, California, Natasha was invited to be San Jose State University’s 2012 Forensic Science Convocation Commencement Speaker. Other speaking engagements included BODE Technology’s East, West and Mid-Atlantic Annual Advanced DNA Technical Workshops, as well as Stony Brook University’s SANE Training Program.
Advocacy, education and justice for anyone and everyone affected by sexual assault are the fundamental motives behind the founding of Natasha’s Justice Project. One of our most notable achievements reflecting these beliefs was our public release of a Request for Proposal (RFP), soliciting applications from local government entities for funding to eliminate a jurisdiction’s backlog of rape kits that have been collected, but not tested. The grant we are offering is part of the Backlog Elimination Pilot Project that aims to establish a model procedure for the elimination of a jurisdiction’s accumulated, untested kits.
While every year is full of challenges and triumphs, Natasha’s Justice Project likes to see every challenge as a personal triumph. In our fundraising efforts, one of our greatest triumphs was hosting our Inaugural Celebrity “Drive for Justice” Golf Outing at Pelham Country Club in Pelham, New York. Celebrity golfers included Jeremy Roenick, Jim McMahon and Ken Daneyko. All golfers attended a cocktail reception and dinner honoring Mrs. Patricia Lanza and the Lanza Family Foundation. The dinner also featured silent and live auctions, with all proceeds directly benefiting NJP. Together, with our dearest friends, family and supporters, we raised a significant amount of money to put towards eliminating the nation’s rape kit backlog. We are honored to be surrounded by such generous individuals and look forward to duplicating such a fantastic event in the upcoming year!
Although we are rounding out the year on high notes of gratitude and success, we must humbly remind ourselves of the more than 400,000 kits that are sitting in public municipalities throughout the United States, waiting to be tested. Every rape kit represents a person and every person’s body, unfortunately at one point, was a crime scene. Moving into the New Year, we are reminded of the population we are serving. We are fighting this fight for all survivors of sexual assault and are looking forward to the triumphs we may all achieve in 2013.
Natasha’s Justice Project would like to personally thank everyone who helps our organization’s future grow brighter with each passing day. We would not be where we are today without your continued support and dedication, and we thank you.
Wishing you all the best in the upcoming year!
Natasha’s Justice Project