JEANERETTE, La. (KLFY) – During the holiday season, many of us are forced to celebrate without loved ones that may have been lost to violence or tragic accidents.
One organization is doing its part to make sure those people are not forgotten.
The VOICE traveling Christmas tree is in its second year of existence. This year it’s here at the Jeanerette Police Department, in memory of one of their own.
Officer Juandre Gilliam was killed during a high-speed chase in April of 2015.
Jeanerette Police Chief Jefferey Matthews says seeing officer Gilliam’s ornament keeps his name alive.
“After the ceremony for the officers, they kind of get lost in the shuffle. It just makes everybody remember there was a life lost. He’s still our brother we are still there for him and his family,” Matthews said.
Chief Matthews says he actually had the unfortunate opportunity to investigate several of the victim’s cases.
“It kind of hits home for me just to come in here and see their pictures and remember what exactly happened,” Matthews said.
Voices Of Innocent Citizens Empowered better known as VOICE, is a group united by the feeling of loss, a common bond of pain, yet a group connected by hope.
“We just want to make sure each year at Christmas that and we come together because it’s better if you’re united together as victims and you have a voice and what goes on. So we just want to make sure all of our loved ones were not forgotten,” VOICE president, Catalene Theriot said.
“The VOICE organization isn’t isolated to one area. Victims on the tree are from Morgan City to Baton Rouge. So if you would like to put a photo of your loved, all you have to do is bring a picture to the police station.”
If any police department would like to have the tree at their station next year, you can contact Catalene Theriot at 337-577-5088.