The Laura Recovery Center for missing children was awarded this year's US Department of Justice Missing Children Non-Profit Organization of the Year Award. The award was presented to Gay Smither and Bob Walcutt at the annual Executive Director's Conference of AMECO (Association of Missing and Exploited Children’s Organizations) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The award recognizes "... outstanding contribution and commitment to missing and exploited children" and was presented by Katherine Darke Schmitt, an Associate Deputy Administrator with the US Department of Justice.
The Laura Recovery Center was nominated for the award by Captain Shari Burrows of the Friendswood Police Department. In her nomination letter, Captain Burrows noted that "This organization has upheld high standards of professionalism and demonstrated noteworthy leadership in protecting children while forging positive relationships with local partners." In addition Captain Burrows praised "the extraordinary effort they display contributing to the protection of children."
Gay Smither, co-founder and president of the Laura Recovery Center, stated "It is an honor to receive this prestigious award. We are pleased to be recognized by the Justice Department for the work of our dedicated staff and volunteers. Being a warrior for missing children is often difficult, but we know that one missing child is one too many!"
The Laura Recovery Center is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, that was founded in Laura Smither's memory. The Center focuses on Education, Search, and Prevention in the area of missing children, has offered free abduction prevention programs to over 200,000 children throughout the greater Houston area, worked with approximately 1,450 families with missing loved ones, and has organized 95 community searches for abducted children nationwide. The Center trains law enforcement at the Houston Police Department training academy and other agencies in Texas, and distributes educational materials and child ID kits.