We all like to think we are motivated by a desire to do good and to see justice be done. Our friend Lauren Smith—who sadly departed from us last December, too soon—spent her time every day trying to make that kind of difference in the world. Through her role as a Congressional staffer, she worked to shift policy on issues close to her heart. In her own time, she volunteered tirelessly, being there for friends in times of personal crisis, and particularly by spending time helping women in Washington, D.C.'s shelters for survivors of domestic and other violence.
Lauren's passion for improving the lives of women who were survivors of sexual assault led her to the Joyful Heart Foundation.
Lauren's passion for justice found a home in the foundation's work, especially its efforts to reduce the rape test kit backlog. Lauren put hours of time, her personal energy and her personal and professional skills into raising awareness and financial support in Congress, the media, and the public to spotlight the profound importance of this project. In her final weeks, though her health was failing, her concern was to ensure her passing would encourage those who knew and loved her to reach into their pockets and donate to the Foundation to ensure its vital work to reduce the rape kit backlog continued.
Today, August 18, would have been Lauren's 38th birthday. As we who knew her and shared her passions remember her today, we also recommit ourselves to supporting the Joyful Heart Foundation's goal of helping ensure survivors of sexual violence can pursue equal justice under the law.
- By Cathy Cook, August 18, 2016
ENDTHEBACKLOG is a program of the Joyful Heart Foundation to shine a light on the backlog of untested rape kits throughout the United States. Our goal is to end this injustice by conducting groundbreaking research identifying the extent of the nation’s backlog and best practices for eliminating it, expanding the national dialogue on rape kit testing through increased public awareness, engaging communities and government agencies and officials and advocating for comprehensive rape kit reform legislation and policies at the local, state and federal levels. We urge you to learn more about the backlog, where it exists and why it matters. Help us send the message that we must take rape seriously.