CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Family Center for Missing Children and Adults is already helping families of missing people around Cleveland help get their family members back.
Six years after escaping from Ariel Castro's home on Seymour Avenue, Gina DeJesus might be shy, but she's not backing away from the nightmare she lived there.
"I think of it just like a regular street," said DeJesus. "Like any other street."
DeJesus' cousin Sylvia Colon says DeJesus started to talk about helping families who went through what her's did as soon as she returned home.
"Gina's true currency is hope," said Colon.
That's how the Cleveland Family Center for Missing Children and Adults was born at the end of 2018. The Center's Board is made up of healthcare and law enforcement experts, offering insight to what is needed as missing persons investigations get started.
"Parents, grandparents, family members, they need someone to turn to," said Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Commander David Frattare.
Frattare and Newburgh Heights Police Chief John Majoy lead the Center's Board.
Chief Majoy says while police track down leads in the minutes and hours after a person goes missing, DeJesus and the Center's staff are ready to step in to comfort and guide grieving families who are missing a family member, helping them assist in the investigation in the most helpful ways.
"Everybody wants to help and that's good, so [Cleveland Family Center for Missing Children and Adults] can help orchestrate that and put some of the pieces of the puzzle together," said Majoy.
The Center works out of office space just down the block from where DeJesus was held captive for six years. DeJesus says she knows the first thing people think about Seymour is that it's where she, Amanda Berry, and Michelle Knight were held.
"If we do something like this, then it'll bring hope to people on the street," said DeJesus.
This story is part of A Better Land , an ongoing series that investigates Northeast Ohio's deep-seated systemic problems. Additionally, it puts a spotlight on the community heroes fighting for positive change in Cleveland and throughout the region. If you have an idea for A Better Land story, tell us here .