November 23, 2015 - 3:00pm
The New York State Office of Victim Services recently recognized Schenectady resident Patricia M. Gioia with its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award for her years of advocacy on behalf of crime victims and their rights.
For Immediate Release: 11/23/2015
The New York State Office of Victim Services recently recognized Schenectady resident Patricia M. Gioia with its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award for her years of advocacy on behalf of crime victims and their rights. The long-time leader of the Albany chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, Mrs. Gioia took on a mission to help other crime victims after her daughter was murdered in California three decades ago.
“Pat turned an absolutely horrific event in her life in a positive direction that continues to serve as an inspiration for others,” said Elizabeth Cronin, director of the Office of Victim Services. “Through unimaginable devastation and her own pain, she’s helped countless other families cope with their sorrow and loss.”
Mrs. Gioia, 85, received the award during a three-day conference, hosted by the Office of Victim Services last month for more than 400 victims’ advocates and service providers who work for programs funded by the agency. She said her own experience working through grief motivated her to help others.
“I found that just knowing other people had survived these horrendous things gave me hope,” Mrs. Gioia said. “It was very beneficial for me to be with others who understood my pain. Even though we have endured different circumstances, our grief is the same. Now I try to help people struggling through the sudden and tragic loss of a loved one understand there is hope, there is an opportunity to heal.”
Mary Regina Gioia was 22 when she and a friend, 18-year-old Gregory Kniffen, were murdered outside of San Francisco in August 1985. The individual convicted of the double murder died in a California prison in 2014.
Following her daughter’s death, Mrs. Gioia joined Parents of Murdered Children and became leader of the organization’s Albany chapter, which is one of three in the state providing a support network for parents and other survivors of homicide victims.
Mrs. Gioia also was involved with the Capital District Coalition for Crime Victims’ Rights, which was instrumental in establishing the state Crime Victims’ Memorial in 1996. She continues to be active in the New York State Crime Victims’ Assistance Task Force, which is how the coalition is now known. The memorial and walkway is located at the Empire State Plaza in Albany, and the task force hosts an annual remembrance ceremony at the memorial.
Her work also has extended to legislative issues. She has served as a vocal advocate for crime victims’ rights, tougher gun control, cameras in the courtroom and expansion of the state’s DNA Databank.
The Office of Victim Services (www.ovs.ny.gov) has a three-tiered mission to provide compensation to innocent victims of crime, fund a network of 226 programs providing direct services to crime victims statewide and advocate for the rights of all innocent victims of crime.
The agency provides a safety net for individuals and/or their family members who have been victimized through no fault of their own and have no other means of assistance. It is a payer of last resort: all other sources of assistance, such as medical insurance and workers compensation, must be exhausted before the agency can pay a victim or their family members for any out-of-pocket losses related to the crime.
Funding for crime victims compensation, 226 victim assistance programs and the cost of the agency’s day-to-day operations comes from the fines, mandatory surcharges and crime victim assistance fees paid by offenders convicted in federal and state courts, not taxpayer dollars.
For more information about services offered by OVS, including eligibility guidelines and a list of victim assistance programs that provide direct help to crime victims across all 62 counties in New York, visit the agency’s website or call 1-800-247-8035.
The Albany chapter of Parents of Murdered Children meets on the third Monday of the month at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany’s Pastoral Center, 40 N. Main Ave., Albany. Visit www.pomc.com for more information about the organization.