Project Jason



Life is funny sometimes. Here’s what happened:

  • The book I just finished revising, After the Storm, involves the disappearance of a central adult character. (I’m not giving anything away; the reader will know this in the first few pages).
  • If a commenter on my blog has a link connected to her name, I’ll often click on the link to see if that person has her own blog.
  • Denise is one such commenter, familiar to those of you who regularly spend time on my blog. So one day I clicked on her name and the link took me to Project Jason , which turned out to be a–you guessed it–site for families of the missing. Kind of a spooky coincidence!
  • I contacted Denise to see if she’d be willing to help me with some final research details. Denise told me she is “just” a volunteer with the organization, and put me in touch with the founder, Kelly Jolkowski. I spoke with Kelly on the phone for about an hour, and she was gracious and generous and full of the information I needed. I also learned about her own story: Jason, her shy, gentle and kind-hearted nineteen-year-old son, disappeared without a trace from the family driveway while waiting for a ride to work. That was seven long years ago. can you imagine having your child vanish into thin air? Realizing how few resources there were for the families of missing people, especially missing adults, Kelly and her husband started Project Jason, a non-profit organization, designed to offer hope and assistance to the families of the missing. As I spoke to Kelly on the phone, I could imagine being one of those family members. How desperate I’d be for someone like Kelly, who could offer me her wealth of knowledge and her compassion.
  • In honor of Jason’s 27th birthday, Project Jason is in the midst of a fund-raising drive to raise $2700 by October 6, the 5th anniversary of the organization’s founding. This is truly a “kitchen table” organization, a real Mom-and-Pop venture, in more ways than one. I’ve sent in my $27. Maybe some of you will be moved to do the same when you read this family’s story .
  • Thank you Kelly, and thank you Denise, for your help with my story and its characters. More importantly, thanks for the help you give those flesh and blood people who need that help in a way I can only imagine. 


  1. brenda on July 13, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    I have also clicked on that source…I can’t imagine the horror of what they have gone through with their son missing…I just finished reading a book about a girl who disappeared-ironically…today…our hearts go out to the families…I watched a movie when my children were small about something like this happening…from that day, I was terrified…now I worry about the grandchildren…I am sure most of you have seen Amber’s story and the reason for the Amber Alert…Diane-it will be interesting to read your story-if the person is found…

  2. Denise on July 13, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Oh, Diane, I am sitting here crying at your generousity for blogging about Project Jason, the cause nearest and dearest to my heart. Thank you so much!

  3. Margo on July 14, 2008 at 8:05 am

    What a moving story Diane. I can’t imagine the horror a parent goes thru when a child is missing. Many years ago a local paperboy named Johnny Gosch disappeared during his paper route. We met his mother a few years ago and the anguish she talked about is heartbreaking. How very brave of Kelly and Denise to share their story with you…it must have touched you deeply Diane.

  4. Gina on July 14, 2008 at 8:35 am

    OH, this story makes me so sad. I can’t imagine any parent going through something like this. I would be happy to contribute. My prayers go out to the family.

  5. Denise on July 14, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Margo, I am familiar with Johnny Gosch. That really is such a sad case, and there are many other stories similar to his.
    The cases the public hears about are just a tiny percentage of the children and adults who are missing. Much has been written about how mainstream media grabs onto the cases involving pretty white female children (Elizabeth Smart) and women (Natalee Holloway). It mostly ignores all of the other missing persons which include vulnerable elderly and mentally ill persons, not to mention the ‘normal’ people from all walks of life who go missing. Additionally, the bulk of government funding and charitable donations go to the missing children organizations and ignores adults.
    One of the reasons Kelly’s organization is so valuable is because when she speaks to families, she knows exactly how it feels and has learned so many things the hard way due to her own experiences. She is extremely grateful for any and all donations.

  6. Michelle Richmond on February 25, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    How interesting. I know Denise through the online community too, and I just commented one of her comments on this blog without knowing that it was her. Project Jason is a wonderful organization.

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