BRIDGEWATER — Eleven years ago, Nancy Schaefer set out to help reunite families with her missing loved ones. Today, even though she's just lost her home and most of her possessions, she remains undeterred.

Schaefer, founder of Missing in America, a volunteer group that’s helped law enforcement and families with hundreds of missing persons cases nationwide, was recently evicted from her Bridgewater apartment and is in the process of clearing out what little she has left.

"I've lost everything. I've lost my apartment, my belongings, everything that I own," Schaefer said through tears Monday.

As the founder of Missing in America, Schaefer — who left her accounting job two years ago — is also the sole funding source for the organization. The 45-year-old estimates that in the past decade, she's spent about $300,000 of her own money to continue helping families locate missing loved ones.

"You have to understand how passionate I am about this cause," she said.

Now, Schaeffer said she has a just a few days before she has to leave her apartment. She said that because she's in default on her rent payments, she also won't get back her security deposit, which has her sinking further into debt.

"It's been really rough, but I'm trying to remain strong," Schaefer said. "I've had to sell everything in yard sales, all my possessions, everything but my clothes."

But rather than use the money she made selling her belongings to help find a new home or get her own finances in order, Schaefer has decided to dedicate the funds to making Missing in America an official 501(c)3 charity organization.

As a temporary solution to her housing issue, Schaefer said she will be staying in Kentucky with the mother of a 19-year-old woman who went missing from Columbia University in May. LaCreis Renee Kidd's daughter was eventually located. Last month, she created a GoFundMe page dedicated to helping raise money so Schaefer could get back on her feet. As of Monday, $2,170 of the $5,000 goal had been raised. Schaefer said she offered to give her landlord the funds, but her offer was declined and instead, she was told to vacate her apartment.

Schaefer said she doesn't want to move out of New Jersey and leave her children and family, but she's out of options at this point. She also said she will not take money from any of the families that she is currently assisting through Missing in America.

"I've been very committed to this cause for 11 years and you don't think about yourself when you're in this situation," Schaefer said. "I have lost everything for the cause, and I would do it all over again."

Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.

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Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.