When Tracy and David Matheson's daughter Molly Jane was found raped and murdered in Texas in 2017 at the age of 22, Tracy Matheson wanted to do something to make their family's ordeal have a positive outcome.
She decided to create a nonprofit – known as Project Beloved – to raise awareness and advocate on behalf of sexual assault victims and survivors around the country.
Project Beloved's mission is to distribute "Beloved Bundles" to hospitals around the country where sexual assault victims are given forensic exams. Each bundle contains clothing, flip-flops, toiletry items, a journal, stress ball, hair scrunchie and water. The bundles help victims have something to wear home after the exam.
On Tuesday, Project Beloved announced a partnership with Inova Loudoun to provide the bundles to Inova's Charles and Betty Ewing Forensic Assessment and Consultation Team, or FACT. Representatives from the group dropped off 54 bundles in all different sizes.
The FACT center opened at Inova's Cornwall Campus in Leesburg in April 2018. It also has a Fairfax County location. Nurses are specially trained for more than 80 hours on how to collect and document forensic evidence for adults and children who have experienced physical violence.
The Mathesons – who previously lived in Loudoun County - connected with their longtime friends Bob Caines and Lisa Rueda to help distribute the bundles in Loudoun.
“We want them to be able to leave with dignity and know there are people out there who care,” said Rueda.
Mary Hale, director of FACT, said 63 percent of all Loudoun cases come to Inova Loudoun's Cornwall Campus.
She said there are less than 2,500 trained forensic exam nurses in the U.S., and Inova has 21 on staff.
Last year, Inova saw 950 patients in Fairfax and Loudoun, she said.
“Being able to do the outreach and have this safe space is huge,” said Hale. “We are creating a space where if someone reports this type of crime they will know they matter and they are safe here."
Services are provided free of charge.
Rueda said they are committed to extending their outreach in Loudoun, and she is grateful for their new partnership at Inova.
“We are committed to keeping the bundles stocked. It is a traumatic time, but it's nice to give them something,” she said.
Inova Foundation Executive Director Suzy Quinn said they are grateful for the vision that allowed the center to expand to Loudoun and for Project Beloved's donation. “We celebrate the continued role the community has in supporting the FACT program,” she said.