Yvonne Pointer was one of ten children born to "a wonderful mother and father," although she admits that she was the worst one of the kids. She was the girl who was always suspended, the one who wanted to try drugs, dropped out of school, and was pregnant at 16. She did everything my parents did not want me to do."
For three years, a friend of her father's continually tried to reach her. He was part of their church, and he would come to where she was getting high and say, 'You need to change your ways.' He was a thorn in her flesh." But there came a time when "the high turned on her and people turned on her. When it did, she remembered the words of her father's friend, went to church, and cried out to God. That was May 4, 1975 and she never forgot her encounter with Jesus Christ."
However, less than ten years later, Pointer experienced what some say is the greatest pain on Earth: the loss of a child. On December 6, 1984, her then 14-year-old daughter Gloria, the oldest of her three children, was raped and murdered while on her way to school in Cleveland, Ohio. "After she died,” she said, “I would spend hours in the church building when no one was there, because it didn't make sense to me," she admits. "I had come through drugs, through street life—and now this? I could not fathom this would happen to a Christian. But because I had that personal experience with God, I went to God."
People from the church rallied around her, washing clothes, cooking, and c leaning when she didn't have the strength. Slowly, a new sense of direction emerged. "In the beginning it was all about the injustice done to my child. Period." Pointer says. "But soon I became aware of other families in similar situations." She wrote letters, talked to police, to reporters, to anyone who would listen. She hoped to find "a celebrity or somebody important" to help.
She says: "I spent five years looking for a famous person to come to Cleveland and help us. In the meantime, I did the work I wanted that person to do because they never got here." In that period, she co-founded Parents Against Child Killing, which later morphed into Positive Plus, a women-helping-women organization. "We started out with mothers who had lost children," Pointer clarifies, "but I found out pain is pain is pain. If your husband walked out and left you with five babies, that's pain. We felt we could find solutions by helping each other."
Today, Pointer's "day job" is in Cleveland's community relations office, but she's also a writer, speaker, and tireless advocate for child safety, receiving numerous honors for her work. She even speaks in prisons, sharing the love of God with inmates. "I found hatred too heavy a load to carry. Would I want the person who murdered Gloria over for Sunday dinner? No. But if I didn't forgive him, unforgiveness would kill me, too," she says quietly. "Forgiveness releases you to live."