The Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy (CAFG) has established a Volunteer Initiative Program (VIP)to give back to the community while helping members gain experience. The program, coordinated by Catherine Desmarais, CG (sm), has established “Unclaimed Kin” as its first VIP project.
Associate members are researching the family members of individuals with unclaimed remains at the Walla Walla County, Washington, coroner’s office. Each researcher handles a decedent’s case from beginning to end, writing a professional forensic report at the conclusion.
Along with Cathi, Melanie Holtz, CG, and Janice Sellers act as team leaders to mentor the assocaites during the research process, and the CAFG Board provides feedback on each report.
Five solved cases have been submitted to the Coroner’s office so far, and several others are nearing completion. During the process, members have learned new resources and techniques for searching for the living, expanded their professional networks, improved their report-writing skills, and built hours of forensic experience.
Other VIP projects are under development as the organization’s way to “pay it forward” to the community.