August, 1993 "What would you do if one of your children was missing?", this question, asked by my cousin Johnny Balko, seemed strange, a bit odd; yet, it served as a challenge. That challenge resulted in the creation of a pure charity, which I named to honor my three children: "3-Children" Organization. The charities mission: "to create ways, programs, and education, regarding the search for a missing child, the continued search for long-term M
Missing Child Flyers (ID Notices), ideally printed in color; however, black and whites are also effective, then posting these flyers, and distributing them to others for posting (including on TV and the Internet) is essential for missing person recognition and a possible "LOCATED" stamped on the flyer. Annual federal funded, federal government managed HELP FIND AND PREVENT MISSING CHILDREN PROGRAMS, are conducted on a national (and, international) basis - these federal programs to help locate missing children and to prevent missing children, are already established. We use these federal programs as models for conducting our own programs, on a smaller, local, regional territory level (our programs have been activated in eight western states: CA, OR, WA, NV, AZ, HI, ID, & UT). One example is our "MAC SHACK PROGRAM", which involves traveling by van (five different "donated" vans have been used for the MAC SHACK PROGRAM, since 1993), throughout established highway routes in these western states.
In order to raise awareness and "public supported donations", to pay the expenses for everything involved with conducting and managing this program, we started a Mobile Awareness Center (MAC SHACK*), a vendor style booth was purchased, along with the necessary display tables, and other necessities involved with presenting a professional looking image, regarding missing children, to the public. Money was raised to purchase these items by a golf tournament and auction, organized by the San Mateo California Coyote Point Women's Golf Club. We have now attended over one thousand events with our MAC SHACK booth, including numerous County Fairs, Regional Festivals, Annual City Festivals, Arts/Crafts/Music Festivals, NASCAR Races, Motorcycle Events, Church Fairs & Festivals, and Gun & Knife Shows.
FOCUS/"3-CHILDREN" Organization volunteer, Ralph Williams, from Livingston, CA, continues arranging and operating the MAC SHACK booth, in a larger and even more efficient manner.
Missing Child Posters, flyers, and notices are displayed prominently throughout the MAC SHACK booth. Flyers are available for anyone who wants to help post them. Binders, containing flyers of 150 randomly selected missing children (there's over 100,000 missing children in this country), are displayed inside plastic sheet-protective covers. As we travel from state to state, from County Fair to Regional Festival, these binders are placed in every post office, in every town we drive through - over 2,500 binders have been placed for display in over 2,500 different Post Offices, National Park Visitor Centers, Federal Courthouses, Federal Custom Houses, and/or Federal Fish Hatchery Visitor Centers (over 250,000 people a year go through the Federal Fish Hatchery in Leavensworth, WA). We place our missing children binders in the 24/7 section of the Post Office "box" lobby area, so the public can view them.
This is how we "model" our "3-Children" Organization charity Program (The MAC SHACK PROGRAM) after the Federal managed "NALC/USPS CHILD ALERT PROGRAM"** (National Association of Letter Carriers/United States Postal Service). According to the original intent and written instructions for the "Child Alert Program", every building owned by, or being managed by the Federal Government (which still includes Post Offices), is supposed to maintain a display area for public viewing of notices. Missing Children Notices are printed monthly by the NCMEC (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children) and sent to every Postmaster in this country. On the back-side of every Missing Children Notices are the "Missing Children Poster Display Instructions" (directed to the Postmasters). According to these "Instructions" Postmasters are supposed to display the monthly Missing Children Notices in the "box lobby" for the general public to view, and in the workroom floor areas for the letter carriers to view before and/or after their route - Postal Carriers are part of our Civilian Defense, our , Postal Carriers go to just about every building in this country, they are our best source for recognizing a missing person.
"3-Children" Organization volunteers have been in well over 2,500 Post Offices, where we placed our Missing Children Binder, which contains over 150 Missing Children/Persons flyers. Out of the 2,500 plus Post Offices we've been into, only eight Post Offices had any type display of missing children notices- OTHER THAN THE ONES WE LEAVE FOR DISPLAY - (meaning less than 1% of the Postmasters actually participate in this important National Program). During our annual travels we replace last years binder with a current up-dated binder. We stamp missing persons who've been found alive, "LOCATED", and we stamp the flyers of those missing who's remains were discovered marked "RECOVERED" (the same system used by Search and Rescue during an emergency catastrophic disaster effort) - and it's obvious to everyone, any family with a missing child is the victim of a catastrophic disaster. Having a missing child is absolutely, the most extreme, worse thing that can happen to anyone. It's the most depressing subject to talk about; yet, everyone has strong, sometimes vengeful, opinions about what should be done to the predators who prey on our children, who commit these crimes of child abduction and exploitation. They also have strong opinions about the lawyers and courts who are lenient toward these predators.
Another aspect of the "Missing Children Poster Display Instructions" is described in paragraph four of these "Instructions" for Postmasters. Paragraph four describes the "Emergency Network System": "In addition to Postal Bulletin updates, NCMEC distributes information periodically. Notification of newly reported missing children is sent to designated district "Missing Children" coordinators via e-mail addresses provided by district managers. Within 24 hours of receipt of an e-mailed Missing Children poster, district coordinators should distribute copies to all Postal Service facilities in their districts. Missing Children posters are to be displayed in the "box lobby" for the general public to view and in the workroom floor areas for the letter carriers to view before and/or after their route. Missing Children posters are to be displayed as noted for 30 days unless notification is received (from NCMEC) to remove a particular poster sooner. The e-mail network is used to distribute posters and information in only the most urgent cases of Missing Children. This system supplements, but does not replace, the Missing Children information in this Postal Bulletin" If this was actually done, in our opinion, the Amber Alert would become even more efficient than it already is, and a lot more long term missing children would be found.
Our charities educational awareness Program about child abduction prevention is modeled after the National, "Four Rules, of the Be Smart Know the Rules Campaign" which is endorsed by the Congressional Caucus on Missing & Exploited Children, and is another annual Federal funded, Federal managed, National Program, intended to educate about child abduction prevention. A copy of the "Four Rules" is included in every binder we've placed for display in Post Offices:
1. NEVER GO ALONE - CONSCIOUSLY PLAN AHEAD TO TAKE A FRIEND.
2. ALWAYS TELL AN ADULT WHERE YOU ARE GOING (AND WHEN YOU ARRIVE).
3. SAY "NO" IF YOU FEEL THREATENED AND TELL AN ADULT YOU TRUST.
4. AVOID SITUATIONS OR PLACES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE
BE SMART - STAY SAFE KNOW THE RULES
We feel this information should be featured in libraries, and it should be reinforced through public broadcasting.
The van vehicles we use and the trailers used for hauling our MAC SHACK supplies and the boxes of missing person notices, all have laminated missing person flyers "clear duct" taped to all windows and doors, along with a laminated copy of the "Four Rules". Large groups of people gather around our vehicles wherever we stop. A lot of people that drive by honk, wave, and flip us the peace sign. I came out of a restaurant in Scotia, CA and a $20 bill was under the windshield wiper, another time a man handed me $10 after seeing the van in a gas station, another took up a collection amongst all the people getting gas, at a busy station, and paid for a tank full of gas, plus some. We operate on an annual budget ranging between twenty to forty thousand annually. All funding has been public donation supported (John Balko, Jr., who inspired the creation of the "3-Children" Organization, has also been a major financial donator and advisor since the charities beginnings). The MAC SHACK booth brought in an average of $10,000.00 in donations, between 1994 thru 2003, annually. The Oakland Athletics (A's) Baseball Organization has a Silent Auction, as part of their Community Funds Programs, and raises an average of $3,000.00 annually over the past seven years. The majority of the balance has been donated annually by the Parks families and the Balko family.
THIS IS WHAT WE WOULD DO, THIS IS WHAT WE DID, "IF ONE OF OUR
CHILDREN IS MISSING"
STARTING YOUR OWN "MAC SHACK" BOOTH IS EASY. TRAVELING FROM FAIR TO FESTIVAL, SETTING UP A MISSING CHILD MOBILE AWARENESS BOOTH (MAC SHACK) IS HARD WORK, CAN BE REWARDING, EVEN FINANCIALLY IT CAN HELP PAY FOR SOME TRAVEL COSTS, EVENT FEES, AND LIVING EXPENSES. FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT US THROUGH OUR GUEST BOOOK PAGE, HERE, OR PHONE (PIN NO. 4672)
* "MAC SHACK PROGRAM" is dedicated and named in honor of Malcolm "Mac silent key W6NBD" PARKS. Mac coordinated an Amateur "Ham" Radio Civilian Defense (now homeland security) radio relay system, between Amateur Radio Clubs, located nationwide and worldwide. He helped establish a Radio Relay System, for arranging emergency needs and equipment, in an area effected by a catastrophic disaster. He helped establish the "Alaska Net", and coordinated the management of the "Alaskan Catastrophic Disaster Radio Relay System" - which is now the model used in any and all areas struck by a catastophic disaster.
** NALC/USPS CHILD ALERT PROGRAM is an annual federal funded program started in 1987. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the USPS are responsible for the partnership management of this help find missing children National Program. On January 19, 1996 President William Clinton signed a Presidential Memorandum directing all buildings owned or controlled by the Federal Government to maintain a display area for the general public can view and post missing person notices. Written directions for the posting of the Missing Children Postal Bulletins, printed quarterly, are posted on the back side of every Missing Children Postal Bulletin, and sent to every Postal Regional Director. There's also written instructions regarding the "Supplement" section of the Child Alert Program, which states within 24 hours of a reported missing child every Post Office in the country will be emailed a photo ID notice of the missing child to be displayed in the "box" lobby section of the Post Office not the retail lobby section. Missing Children Postal Bulletin Notices are also to be displayed in the workroom floor area of the building so Postal Carriers can view the notices before and/or after their route.