A new project to honor the memories of crime victims in underway in eastern Iowa. Linda Sorenson is a victim service coordinator with the Iowa Department of Corrections. “It’s really important we always hear the victim’s side. The victim’s story,” Sorenson said.
The Victim Advisory Board is planning to build a memorial garden next to a Department of Corrections’ facility in Cedar Rapids. Abuse survivor Ajai Dittmar says she appreciates the site selection. “I think it sends a clear message that victims are going to be part of the process and it reminds offenders why they’re here,” Dittmar said.
LeeAnn Hildenbrand, another abuse survivor, donated the garden’s first tree. The garden will also include benches, stones, a large bronze angel statue and a gazebo. “Nature is the most beautiful, peaceful thing you can have in life,” Hildenbrand said. “We just want people to remember and I think society’s so busy that (people) don’t have time.” The Victim Advisory Board has decided to call the project The Leah Wara Memorial Garden.
Wara was murdered in Cedar Rapids about 20 years ago. Sorenson is Wara’s mother, but she did not ask the garden to be named for her daughter. The project is expected to take two years to complete and cost around $20,000. Donations to the project can be directed to Kathy Saddoris, Department of Corrections, 951 29th Avenue SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404.
By Mark Geary, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids