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Mother, victim helps other victims through Saginaw Police Department program

Barbara Clark and Brittany House working together to assist victims in the city of Saginaw. (Photo credit: Jesse Gonzales)

A Saginaw mother, whose son was murdered 19 years ago, understands what it's like to be a victim.

Now she's using her time to help others through a relatively new program in the Saginaw Police Department.

Barbara Clark lost her beloved son Tommie in 1998.

But she said with that loss, she soon gained the strength to extend a helping hand toward others.

"He was in the car and this kind of car had a little, small window and I could just see his face in the back," Barbara said.

Little did she know, her son would be driving down the street with a 15-year-old murderer.

"And that was the last time I saw him alive," she said.

Her son Tommie was murdered in Hoyt Park on April 12, 1998.

"Because of a girl," she said. "He was talking to a young lady and her ex-boyfriend was the one that murdered him... over her."

She said it was a gruesome murder.

"He tried to pull his teeth, he split his chest open and the sad part... the last thing he wanted to do is take his skull for a trophy," she added.

But somehow, she said, she learned to cope and to live.

"At one point, it's like, 'Wow'," she said. "But now I know there was a purpose behind all that."

She said her purpose is to help other victims through a service provided by Saginaw Police Department.

Officials said the victim services unit is one of the few of its kind in the nation, where volunteers, like Barbara, reach out to victims, provide them with resource and simply ask them how they're doing.

"There's a lot of surprise and hesitation," said specialist Brittany House. "But there's a lot of appreciation from the victims... for them to know that there's someone at the police department that cares about how they're doing and how they're recovering from the trauma."

Barbara said she agrees.

"It does me good just to know their case is being looked at," she said.

In just the first year of the unit's exisistence, volunteers have helped 459 victims in crimes ranging from sexual assault to domestic violence to homicide.

"Barbara is a great example of the type of volunteer that we can utilize here," Brittany said. " She has that empathy and that connection."

Barbara said she's just happy to help.

"I'm so glad that my life has purpose concerning my son," she said. "Any way I can help somebody... that's where I want to be... that's what I want to do."

Officials said the unit is possible thanks to a grant they received in the end of 2015.

As for the number of volunteers, they said they could use more to help them contact all victims in the city of Saginaw.

For those interested in volunteering or in need of assistance, you can contact the unit at (989)-759-1260.


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