The annual “Night of Hope,” the official Connecticut Missing Persons Day event, will be held on the Naugatuck Town Green on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013.A Night of Hope is held each year in honor of William “Billy” Smolinski, who went missing from Waterbury on Aug. 24, 2004, and has not been found since. He is believed to have had ties to the Oxford area.
This year, State Rep. David Labriola, R-Oxford, will be the emcee.
The event will feature speakers to bring awareness to the silent crisis of missing persons across our state.
Speakers include Billy’s mother Janice Smolinski, his father Bill Smolinski Sr. and Paula Smolinski Bell, Billy's sister, Sgt. James Thomas of the Connecticut State Police Missing Persons Unit, Connecticut Victims’ Advocate Garvin Ambrose, Cathy Kohut of Resources in Search and Rescue, and private investigators Mike Ward and Gil Alba.
Invited guests include State Rep. Rosa C. Rebimbas, R-Naugatuck, and Naugatuck Mayor Bob Mezzo.
“Janice Smolinski has been steadfast in her commitment to finding all missing persons, and I’m honored to be a part of the annual Night of Hope,” said Labriola, whose 131st District covers parts of Naugatuck, Southbury and all of Oxford. “Hopefully, with events like this, we can raise awareness of the missing person crisis and help reunite families.”
There will be a performance from singer Lucia Palmieri Zager, a butterfly release by Paula (Billy's sister), with his niece and nephew Tori and Brad Bell. LostNMissing, a non-profit organization, will set up a table to provide information to the public and families regarding the missing and will also provide light refreshments.
Immaculate Conception Ladies Guild member Joy Brown will present a few specially crocheted prayer blankets from the guild.
Janice Smolinski's dedication to finding her missing son is also the impetus behind a federal version of “Billy's Law,” which would link two existing databases maintained by the Department of Justice: the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC)and the Department of Justice’s National Missing Person and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) and would create a grant program to help local law enforcement and medical examiners report missing persons and unidentified remains to NCIC, NamUs, and the National DNA Index System (NDIS).
The Naugatuck Town Green is located at 228 Church St. and the event is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. In the event of inclement weather, the event will be moved across the street to the lower level of Naugatuck Town Hall, 229 Church St.
The event is free and open to the public.