Story and photos by Ike Dodson, CDCR PIO
Office of Public and Employee Communications

A few dogs still found space to chase down their toys on open stretches of grass, but the walking paths at Fremont Park all led to inspirational visuals in the central square Wednesday, as Dr. Nicole Clavo’s voice diced through the serenity with emotion and urgency during the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) ceremony.

Her closing remarks garnered boisterous applause from CDCR executive staff, big smiles from the Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services (OVSRS) and a bevy of support from several victim services agencies and advocacy groups in attendance.

“We can’t pick and choose which children we are going to save and which children we are going to allow to fall by the wayside,” Clavo said. “It’s your responsibility, just as well as it’s the parents responsibility.

“The village is the community. It’s CDCR; it’s the schools; it’s the churches; it’s the resource centers; it’s parks and recreation. Until we get back to the foundation of building our children up and allowing them to become productive adults, we will find ourselves having these events year after year, mourning our loved ones.”

Clavo’s son, JJ, a Grant High student, was murdered in North Sacramento in 2015. Motived by the support she received from her community, she created the Healing5 Foundation, and works to give all families the support, attention, and resources they need in the wake of tragic loss.

Her voice was necessary Wednesday, as crime survivors and advocates discussed the vital services and support that serve one of California’s most vulnerable communities.

“We have to be giving healing to the community in our homes, our neighbors,” Clavo added. “I am a big fan of ‘the village.’ I do believe that we all should be ‘the village,’

“You are a part of society and you have responsibility to ensure our young become old and they have the resources to help them get there.”

She also thanked CDCR Undersecretary Ralph Diaz for speaking and lauded OVSRS Chief Nolice Edwards, who recognized her office’s 30th anniversary of supporting the victim and survivor community. OVSRS provided services information alongside 13 other agencies and advocacy groups that stocked tables surrounding the ceremony.

One of them, operated by Diego Galvan, provided a deep connection to a lost loved one. Galvan’s stepson, Luis G. Alvarez Jr., was murdered in April 2016 in downtown Lodi. When the family was only able to post a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of his killer, Galvan and Luis’ mother, Leticia Galvan, founded Luis G. Alvarez Jr. Rewards for Justice Inc., a foundation dedicated to raising funds to incentivize murder witnesses to come forward with information.

“Our case has been solved, but there are families out there still suffering without closure,” Diego said. “We are hosting our second annual benefit dinner June 23 at the Moose Lodge in Acampo to raise more funds for the foundation.”

It was Diego’s first trek to CDCR’s NCVRW event at Fremont Park. He and his wife are retired CDCR employees.

“I was very glad we were invited,” he said. “A lot of people asked about my stepson and I really felt like it was big success. It was interesting to see what was addressed during the ceremony.”

The event included special recognition by Diaz of individuals who provide outstanding service on behalf of crime victims. Diaz first recognized Deborah Bain, Deputy Attorney General of the Department of Justice, Victim Services Unit. He also presented Penny Sadri a certificate that honored her father, Napoli Culinary Academy and Café Napoli founder Hassi Sadri. Suzanne Neuhaus, retired parole agent and active Victim Offender Dialogue facilitator, was also recognized.

OVSRS Assistant Chief Katie James was also honored for her devotion to crime victims and survivors.

The California State Prison, Sacramento, Color Guard also participated in the ceremony while the Island Sunset Band delighted participants with musical interludes.

Four Division of Juvenile Justice youth from O.H. Close and N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facilities helped set up the event and earnestly interacted with crime victim advocates.