In honor of National Crime Victim’s Rights Week (April 21-27), Justice for Murdered Children (JMFC) celebrated its third annual Children’s Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser on Saturday, April 27, in Carson.

The organization was founded by Lawanda Hawkins after her only son Reggie and her sister were murdered. Feeling left out of the justice system, Hawkins started the organization in 1996. Hawkins wore a sweater with pictures of murdered victims made into it. Poster-size pictures of victims hung on the walls, and small ones were glued to a poster attached to the lectern.

JFMC offers legal support, counseling, as well as educational services.

Community members, relatives of murdered victims and political figures such as Carson Mayor Jim Dear supported the fundraiser.

“Kids in Carson treat murder like it’s the thing to do,” said Dear. “We want to raise money for the organization so we can prevent this type of crime and heighten awareness.”

Members of the NAACP and the local Girl Scouts Club were among the 50 or so who attended the event, which was held in a strip mall at 603 University Drive.

According to Nelson Williams, a JFMC volunteer, “The organization is an opportunity to raise awareness about violence, and allow people to understand that it is OK to [feel like a] victim, and it’s OK to be afraid of retaliation if you choose to disclose and discuss details about a murder. We want people to know we are here to help.”

Not all the victims were youths. They ranged from grade school-students to adults, including law-enforcement officers. Pictures of Boston bombing victims were included.

Parents of murdered victims spoke at the event, including Carla Hansen, whose son, Carl Gibson Smith, was killed in 2003 while walking to his car on Tamarack Avenue and Kelso Street in Inglewood.

Hansen said she suffered many sleepless nights and had thoughts of suicide after her son’s death, but with the support of Hawkins and the Justice for Murdered Children organization she was able to continue her life and eventually pursue and receive her master’s degree in management.

Another victim, Linda Jay, a community activist, knew Hawkins years before her daughter Brittany Jay Phillips was killed, and was able to utilize the support from the JFMC, which eventually led to a guilty conviction of her daughter’s murderer. She emphatically expressed how relieved she was to finally receive justice for her daughter’s death, which allowed her the must-needed closure she sought.

For more information on the organization, visit www.jfmc.org.