Advocating for crime victims: One woman's life mission

Ann Dugger's goal: Be proactive in fight against crime

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – People who are victims of crime often don't have a voice and are frustrated by having to navigate a complex system to get justice.

Twenty years ago, one local woman heard their plea and embarked on a journey to make a Positively Jax difference.

Ann Dugger is an advocate. A victim's advocate. A woman who's passion is helping others, especially innocent people -- children who don't have a voice and who are the victims of crime.

In fact, in 1995 she helped form Jacksonville's Justice Coalition, with the goal of being proactive in the fight against crime at the forefront. It came about because of one man's plight.

"Well, it was about a man named Ted Hires," she said. "Ted had been robbed seven times, when the eighth time the gun was put to his head personally."

"He felt like his employees and his children should just get over it when a gun is put to your head, but then he was robbed," Dugger said.

And that changed his mind.

Dugger's compassion for others is undeniable.

"For me, it's not just a job or position, it's actually a calling, and when your doing something that you look forward to every day -- being able to give somebody a voice, being able to encourage someone and strengthen them, being able to let them know that they're not in this alone, that's very rewarding," Dugger said.

She has made a difference for years and has been honored with a myriad of awards for her service. But this humble woman said this effort isn't about her.

"Absolutely, this award is not about one person, this award is about a team," she said. "The team that drives a Justice Coalition to what we do best, and that's advocating for innocent victims of violent crime."

Day or night, the people of the Justice Coalition are there for the people who need them most. And Dugger is about victims' rights, whether protecting those rights in a court of law or working with lawmakers in Tallahassee and advocating for new legislation to protect Florida, its children and its citizens.

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