HILLSDALE, N.J. -- Rosemarie D'Alessandro of Hillsdale, who made protecting children and helping other parents her life's mission after her 7-year-old daughter was slain by a neighbor more than 40 years ago, will receive a prestigious award next week.
The Minnesota-based Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center will present the 2016 Excellence in Advocacy Award to D'Alessandro on Wednesday during "When Words Matters," a three-day violence intervention and prevention summit at Resorts International Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City.
“It will be a day to be thankful for Joan’s inspiration motivating me to be her squeaky wheel for child safety awareness, and a day to think of everyone’s part, big or small, in this important and crucial movement,” D’Alessandro said Friday.
“No one can replace your hands in the circle of doing good," she said.
Gunderson NCPTC trains law enforcement and other "front line child protection professionals" in recognizing and addressing child abuse, neglect and exploitation.
"Offering a broad variety of session topics, the VIP Summit is an opportunity for professionals in child protection services, law enforcement, forensic interviewing, legal, healthcare, education, faith communities, victim advocacy, and youth serving organizations to advance their skills with best practices from their respective fields," the organization's literature says.
Joseph McGowan, a former high school science teacher, was convicted of raping and murdering young Joan D'Alessandro on April 19, 1973 (Holy Thursday), before dumping her body in Harriman State Park, where it was found on Easter.
The youngster had come to McGowan’s home, three doors down, looking to sell her last two boxes of cookies.
McGowan remains imprisoned, having repeatedly been denied parole – thanks in large part to Rosemarie D’Alessandro’s tireless advocacy.
She pushed through the passage of Joan’s Law, signed by Gov. Christie Whitman in 1997 and by President Clinton in 1998. It mandates life in prison for the killing of children under 14 during a sex crime.
She established the non-profit organization Joan's Joy (officially known as the Joan Angela D’Alessandro Memorial Foundation) to help youngsters and raise awareness of child safety issues.
D'Alessandro also had a butterfly sculpture and garden dedicated dedicated to Joan built outside the Hillsdale train station.
GO TO: www.JoansJoy.org