Bella Vista Church Helps Sheriff’s Office Find Lost Loved Ones

BENTON COUNTY (KFSM)-- For the past 10 years, a Bella Vista Church has been helping the Benton County Sheriff's Office find people who have wandered off.

The program is called Project Lifesaver and the church is the St. Theodore's Episcopal Church.

Children or adults who wander are given a white bracelet that transmits a radio signal to the sheriff's office.

When someone goes missing, a simple call can get the search started without having to bring in a massive search party.

Lana McDonald is the parish administrator at the church and her husband helped start the program in the county.

She said 10 years ago, her husband started to look into ways to help find elderly people who wandered off.

He came across Project Lifesaver and brought it to the sheriff's office.

They hopped on board and agreed to purchase the equipment needed to receive the signal while the church started a non profit to help with all the paperwork.

“Then we would use our people, our volunteers to actually do the administration of the program," McDonald said. "So we go out and sign up the new clients when they need it, we do all the paperwork, we keep the books, we do everything like that.”

She said they only charge a family $100 for the bracelet and they help those who may not have that.

For the past 10 years, McDonald said the program has helped law enforcement find these lost loved ones.

Right now they have 18 clients but many more have been through the program.

“The first couple of years we never had more than 8 at any one time," McDonald said. "Of course they come and go. We’ve had, I couldn’t even tell you how many people we have served in that 10 years but I know its upwards of 100.”

McDonald said when a person without the bracelet is found through a search, the sheriff's office will refer them to the program.

The only thing with Project Lifesaver is that it is meant for people who live with others.

McDonald explained they cannot give it to someone who lives alone because a phone call must be made to police to track the bracelet's signal.

She is the person who visits with each family to get them a bracelet.

Most interactions she has with those families all include one thing.

“They just feel relieved," McDonald said. "They are just so glad there’s something that can help them because it is really scary for them.”

For anyone interested in this program, McDonald said to simply call the St. Theodore's Episcopal Church.