Rev. Wayne S. Price, Sr. and his wife Vera Janet Price are the co-founders of the Center for True Justice and Healing (CTJH) which is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation serving the needs of survivors of homicide in Maryland and the D.C. Metropolitan area.
Wayne S. Price, Sr.
Rev. Price serves as executive director. He has extensive experience working with Christian social action ministries and has managed several community-based projects and non-profit organizations that provide both social and spiritual support to hurting people. He has been working with individuals and families in a variety of ways throughout his more than thirty years as an ordained minister. He has a M.S.M.-Criminal Justice and is an alumnus of the Roper Victim Assistance Academy of Maryland, serves as chair of the Patuxent Institution Board of Review, and is on the board of directors of the D.C. Alliance, Empowering Homicide Survivors. He is also a survivor of homicide, having lost his son, Wayne Jr. on April 4, 2002, when he was murdered during an in-home invasion which ultimately led to the creation of CTJH. The mission of CTJH is to provide leadership in comprehensive caring and support for hurting people of all faiths and philosophies.
Vera Janet Price
Vera Janet Price was the heart and foundation of the organization, working largely in the background to ensure that CTJH achieved its compassionate mission of encouraging and supporting survivors of trauma and loss.
All who knew her were deeply saddened when they learned that on July 6, 2012, Almighty God in His infinite wisdom had gently called His beloved Vera home. Her spirit lives on in the organization in the contributions she made to its creation, in the wonderful memories everyone connected with CTJH has of her warmth and kind-hearted encouragement, and in the many testimonies to her courage and compassion.
The postman knew something was wrong when the volume of mail going out and coming in took a sharp dip. Others knew when the letters and cards they’d counted on getting stopped coming; when their birthdays or anniversaries or graduations passed without recognition. Still others realized something was off when they were having an especially bad day or tough time, and there was no note in the mail that day that somehow, some way, had come at just the right time with just the right words. Those who knew without doubt that something was off were those who knew her best, her family and friends, who knew they’d lost someone whose gentle spirit and amazing strength could never be replaced.
Vera Janet Price had her share of hard times. She knew what it was to be sick, to be stressed, and to suffer. She had been, at various times in her life, a single mother with two kids to support, a grieving mother who had to bury an infant son and then a grown one, a grieving daughter with a dying father and an ailing mother. She certainly had reasons to complain and decide that the world had it in for her when she had to leave a job she enjoyed because her pain from fibromyalgia had gotten too severe for her to continue working. She got even more reason when she contracted a shingles virus that was more severe than most at the end of a rare vacation. Most people would just throw up their hands and give up. But Vera Janet Price wasn’t most people. She made a different choice, one that was a lot harder and one that took a lot more courage.
She chose to reach out to others, and to work through her pain by seeking to end the pain of those around her. She chose to comfort others, to encourage them, to sustain them, and to listen to them. Her primary way of doing this was through cards and letters. Her family knew that the best gift to give her was a set of stationery and a nice pen. She had a routine, every day, where she would go through all of the cards and letters that she had received from people, and decide which to respond to. Since her death her family has heard countless stories from the recipients of those notes, people they might not have known themselves, but who were known to Vera. Somehow she knew them, and they knew her, and they knew that in Vera they had found a rare soul. One they could trust with their secrets and their pain; that would take the time to sit down and write to them, reach out to them. One who would remember them, even when they didn’t do the same for her in return. Vera wasn’t someone who gave looking for something in return. For her, the joy was in the giving.
When Vera’s stepson, Wayne S. Price, Jr., was murdered in April, 2002, her ministry took on a new focus. She and her husband, Wayne S. Price, Sr., found that many of the places they looked for healing and strength in their grief were inadequate. Churches were looking for new members; victim service organizations were geared towards either the criminal justice system or around a quick “get over it” philosophy. They realized that none of the existing sources of support for victims were taking into account that far too often in today’s world, whatever violent event had sent the victim in search of support was unlikely to be the first traumatic event they’d survived. Many victims of violent crimes are already suffering before the trauma comes along, and when the trauma hits, that other suffering doesn’t go away. It gets worse, and it makes everything that comes afterwards that much harder. Wayne and Vera decided to do something about this; to try and create something to fill this need. They founded a non-profit organization, the Center for True Justice and Healing, Inc. (CTJH), whose mission is to be a guide for the journey through grief, toward true healing. Sometimes that journey takes a lifetime, but it’s always easier with someone who has been there before and can show you the way out. Both Wayne and Vera had experienced enough grief and trauma to know something about healing, and they decided to share that wisdom and experience with others who found themselves in similar situations.
While Wayne, an ordained minister, focused on counseling and more outward support, Vera provided vital support behind the scenes, as she continued her ministry of encouragement. Her cards and letters were nothing new; they’d been a part of her life since before anyone can remember. But they took on an added urgency now, as she encountered victims of trauma as a part of her own process of healing following the death of Wayne, Jr. She met people in all kinds of situations and in all kinds of pain, and she reached out to all of them, carrying on private correspondences with people that spanned years. If you were a friend of Vera’s, you were a friend for life. She knew how important it was for people to know they were remembered. She understood that words are powerful, and that a well-chosen one, particularly if it’s set down on paper, can make a world of difference in someone’s life. She knew that what could seem like a small act could have a big impact.
Vera’s impact on those she touched through her ministry of encouragement, both privately and then as a part of CTJH, continues to be felt today. Wayne continues to work through CTJH, and the many people whose lives she helped improve continue to tell him stories. One such story comes from 101-year-old Colonel Frank Herrelko, Sr. (Ret.), who first met Vera in the mid-70s when she was working in the cafeteria at the NSA. He saw her potential and encouraged her to apply for a position at the agency, which she did. His encouragement and support gave her an opportunity, and she worked her way up through the ranks at the agency, retiring in 2000 as a supervisor. Col. Herrelko followed Vera’s career, and she kept in touch with him as she did so many others, never forgetting his birthday. She sent him a card every year until she died, and when he didn’t get one for his 100th birthday, he knew something was wrong.
Her whole adult life was a series of small acts of courage, performed each and every day, adding up to a beautiful whole in the extraordinarily graceful and compassionate way she lived her life.