"There is no footprint too small that it cannot leave an imprint on the world" -In Memorial of Jenise Wright Gone but not forgotten

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EAST BREMERTON -- When Jenise Wright went missing in August, the 6-year-old's East Bremerton neighborhood was crowded with law enforcement and media. Quick memorials and flowers popped up on the roadside.

 

Now, almost eight months later, the temporary memorials are gone.

 

But on Saturday the community that still mourns Jenise saw some finishing touches placed on a permanent memorial at Jenise's school, Cottonwood Elementary.

 

"We are going to make sure she is not forgotten," said Brian Reed, who goes by "Manchu" with his brothers from the Iron Order Motorcycle Club. "This was a dark cloud over this community, now there is a silver lining."

 

The Shipyard Chapter of Bremerton, of which Reed is president, raised the money, established the connections with local businesses and built the memorial that will greet students and adults when arriving on campus.

 

"It will live on for many, many years, which I think is really special," said Principal Beth LaHaie.

 

The memorial consists of two benches alongside a concrete and stone footpath. That phase of construction had been complete when the roar of the motorcycles signaled the arrival of the club Saturday morning. Wearing the club's black and white colors, members and "maidens" -- as members wives are known -- had shoveled the soil and planted purple flowers within minutes. Purple was Jenise's favorite color.

 

Sixth-grade math and science teacher Janice Davison designed the garden memorial, and said the pathway symbolized crossing over. Davison picked out the inscription for the plaque, which will face the school's parking lot.

 

"There is no footprint too small that it cannot leave an imprint on the world," it will read.

 

The Reeds were fairly new arrivals to Kitsap County when the news of Jenise's disappearance spread. Jenise was reported missing Aug. 3. On Aug. 7 her body was found in a ravine behind the Steele Creek Mobile Home Park on Old Military Road. Gabriel Gaeta, then 17, a neighbor and friend of Jenise's family, was arrested Aug. 9. He has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and first-degree rape of a child. His trial is scheduled for June 1.

 

LaHaie, who said the project received the blessing of Jenise's family, said it also helped the school community move through the grief.

 

"I think it's part of the healing process," LaHaie said. It honor's Jenise's memory, but it also gives students and parents a contemplative place to gather.

 

Reed was quick to note that while the bikers may appear on the surface to match the rough and tumble stereotype of bikers, they take pride in being law-abiding and involved in their communities. The club has a diverse membership, ranging from law enforcement officers to Microsoft employees.

 

"We are a little different from what people might be used to," Reed said

 

LaHaie, standing among the men in their three-patch sleeveless jackets, got choked up thanking them for their work.

 

"Seeing all the bikes come in today means so much," LaHaie said.

 

Janice Reed, Manchu's wife, shares her name with Jenise, although not the spelling -- "Jenise" is a combination of her parents' first names, James and Denise. Hearing her name on the television caught Janice Reed's attention.

 

"In forty-something years I've heard my name about six times," Janice Reed said.

 

Although the club is focused on motorcycles, it also has a strong orientation toward service. Janice Reed completed a lot of the legwork, calling to find businesses willing to donate materials or offer discounts. The club held a poker run, and helped raise the $2,500 used to purchase the benches and other materials.

 

"We couldn't stand by and not do anything," she said.

 

Written By: Andrew Binion

Published By: Kitsap Sun April 19, 2015