Shuri L. Sheppard
FOSCI Family Member
I first met Beverly (a day in which I will never forget) at Shelton Chappel’s candle light vigil for his mother as I felt compelled to attend it and to this very day it was the best decision that I had ever made! Beverly was talking to a friend of mine from the Times Union and I had wanted to say hello to him as he has written many articles for us about our mother’s case. Of course he had something on his mind and it was very serious as he spoke to Beverly, which only shows me that anyone can feel comfortable talking to Beverly. I said hello to them and Beverly immediately spoke to me (a complete stranger) and knew that something was wrong, even though we had not met before she said she would like to meet with me at her office and would I please come to see her? I had been going through a very hard time in my life and somehow she knew it, sensed it and like an Angel from Heaven she urged me on to come and see her. She stressed that she needed to talk to me and I said “yes” of course and thought “who is this woman”? Obviously God had sent her to me during one of the lowest times in my life. You see when our mother was brutally murdered in March of 1981 there was nobody to speak to about it. Not any of us as a family; my sister, brother, nor I were offered any counseling service back then. We only watched it on the television and saw it in the newspaper again the next day. It was so shocking and disturbing as my mother had been my best friend and I was just 19 years old when she was killed. My sister was only 15 years old at the time of our mother’s death also. Beverly met with me that very week after we had spoken and we saw each other at her office as planned. This was 30 years after my mom’s death but I had also most recently lost my 2nd mother, my Grandmother, and that put me over the edge. I was a wreck and had put myself into Southside Counseling just to have someone to talk to. Mostly I just cried during my sessions there and she was a lovely lady who did her best to help me. But Beverly immediately stole my heart and touched me in a way that nobody else had before. She had me crying and pouring out my heart to her that first day and it was something that I had needed for the past 30+ years I am sure. We prayed together and instantly became the best of friends. She was my Angel for sure and God had sent me to her. Since that day we have remained close and she has showed me how to give and concern myself with helping others as opposed to just having pity on myself and learn to focus on the good things remaining in my life and not to dwell on the bad. She explained how I needed to give it all over to Jesus and we pray together each day, even if just on the phone. She heard it all from me, I felt like I could tell her anything and we love each other and still do even more every day. I joined her organization, FOSCI Families, and volunteered my time as much as I could and even told my sister about this lovely lady hoping that Suzanne may have some peace of mind just by meeting her and now she goes to FOSCI when time allows also and is able to help us on the Board as well. FOSCI put our mother’s name on their Memorial Wall at the building on Myrtle Avenue. She has introduced us into other related groups such as The Justice Coalition and Compassionate Families and this has helped us get more exposure to our mother’s case. It was most recently on the front page, along with her story, of the Victim’s Advocate in this year’s August edition. . My mother’s name at the time of her murder was Nancy Jo Canode. Beverly and all of the wonderful people that we have met at FOSCI Families have helped me more than words can express, and just to know how many people out there care is a true blessing! I thank God for the opportunity to be able to volunteer and give back now to the others who need it so bad and help with things such as the FOSCI Toy Drive, annual Thanksgiving Dinner, and so many more things that we will do as time permits. This was written on January 8, 2015 and it is my story of how I found the help I had been looking for so very long. Thanks to all of the groups I mentioned above, to Beverly McClain, Dena Francis, Pastor Ruth Taylor, C. E. English-EL, and all of the wonderful people who help keep FOSCI Families going today.