Bridgewater woman, devoted to missing persons cases, now needs your help
She's devoted the past 11 years of her life to reuniting families with their missing loved ones and providing closure to those who've had no answers for years on end.
But as rewarding as those accomplishments may be, they don't pay the bills.
Bridgewater resident Nancy Schaefer is founder of Missing in America, a volunteer group that's helped law enforcement and families with hundreds of missing persons cases nationwide since last decade. As founder, Schaefer is also the sole funding source, and the tab has reached a level she can no longer overcome.
"I'm in the process of being evicted from my apartment," she told New Jersey 101.5. "I've had my car repossessed. I'm holding on by a thread right now."
According to her calculations, Schaefer has doled out about $300,000 of her own money to keep her mission afloat. But now she needs to keep herself above water. The 45-year-old retired from her accounting job two years ago.
An eviction hearing is scheduled for Aug. 26. Schaefer's goal is to scrounge a couple thousand dollars so she can get by until next month.
To get Schafer back on her feet for more than just a little while, a GoFundMe page has been created in her name.
The page is a product of LaCreis Renee Kidd, whose 19-year-old daughter went missing from Columbia University in May. Schaefer personally reached out to Kidd after learning of the case, offering information that could be used to make contact with her daughter who was eventually located.
"Nancy takes giving to a whole other level that I can not even wrap my brain around," Kidd said. "The amount of money - her own personal money that she has invested over the past 11 years - really is unprecedented."
The hope is that the public's generosity will help Schaefer get by until Missing in America obtains nonprofit status and is eligible for outside funding.
Schaefer said each case she handles typically comes with a price tag in the thousands, between transportation, lodging and other resources. Schaefer said she's been part of 500 active or solved cases.
"Sometimes it's a runaway situation, sometimes it's cold cases. We'll actually do professional searches," she said.
Unwilling to take time away from helping a family or saving a life, Schaefer had never focused on raising funds for her efforts, despite spending as many as 15 hours per day on Missing in America duties.
But she said she has to put pride aside in this very desperate time.
"I don't want to stop what I'm doing," Schaefer said. "I can not see my life existing without doing what I do."
Also on New Jersey 101.5: Missing people in New Jersey
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at Dino.Flammia@townsquaremedia.com