Smallwood Plaza, Lauren Spierer's home, is also "Search Central" in the effort to find her. (WIBC.com photo: Mike Corbin)Listen:
You notice it the second you arrive outside Smallwood Plaza. On this Friday, it's very hot out, but the glaring sun and humidity isn't deterring about a dozen volunteers at tables outside the building.
This is where I first saw Nabiha Niazi. She's a Bloomington resident, but she's not an IU student nor does she know Lauren Spierer.
"I'm petite. She's my weight, my height, my heart goes out to her! Because you know in this situation I know, I can defend myself to certain point. So my heart goes out to her and we're going to do everything we can to find her."
After talking with Niazi, I went inside. This is a wide, front office space that used to be a coffee shop. The owners of Smallwood Plaza are allowing volunteers to use it as "Search Central" for Lauren Spierer.
John Summerlot doesn't want to admit it, but he's really the guy in charge. This is how he's spending his week off from work.
"The number of volunteers we've had has been overwhelming. I mean we've had a thousand people a day coming out and taking part in the searches. We've had people calling in from all over the county and all over the state saying 'Oh I live near here I went to check this, I went and did that.' We have whole groups coming by picking up fliers and those sort of things."
Summerlot is standing behind an old countertop scattered with markers and maps and marked up maps, along with fliers with Lauren's picture on them. A small group is sitting or standing around Summerlot obediently awaiting instructions.
Bloomington resident Cliff Cox is one of them. He doesn't know Lauren either.
"More so than anything else, when I see her parents out here everyday and they're out here and they're looking and they're going out on search parties themselves, all I feel is that I want to support them and I'm not thinking too far ahead what we're gonna find, we're just now is now and we're doing what we can to progress the search effort and make any progress we can!"
Inside this space is basically a rag-tag group of people who don't really know each other ... brought together by someone they don't know. Some from as far away as Fort Wayne.
Sally Maggard and her son Kirk are here from Carmel.
"You know, you just do these things for people. You just have to!" "I mean, if it were my daughter, I'd really appreciate it if these people came out and helped me." "I have a 30 year old daughter and all I could think about is if it were her! Just having people support you. And just seeing it in the dad's eyes. He just seems the more support he's gotten from Bloomington and IU is beyond words for him, but he just seems to take comfort from people reaching out and helping and that's what we're all about is helping people."
And there you have it. People united here at Search Central and divided into search groups for someone they wouldn't have known had they seen her on the street just last week. But like Lauren's family, they too are searching and hoping. » Search Continues for Lauren Spierer (6-10-11) » More Details on the Altercation Before Lauren Spierer's Disappearance (6-9-11) » "Team Adam" Joins in Search for Spierer (6-9-11) » Persons of Interest Identified in Spierer's Disappearance (6-9-11) » Spierer Family Offers Reward for Lauren's Safe Return (6-9-11) » Search for Spierer Continues at Lake Monroe (6-9-11) » Confrontation at Lauren Spierer's Apartment the Night She Disappeared (6-9-11) » Search Effort for IU Student Continues to Grow (6-8-11) » Behrman Family Offers Support to Spierers (6-8-11) » Bar Under Investigation After IU Student's Disappearance (6-8-11) » Friends and Supporters in New York Hold Vigil for Lauren Spierer (6-8-11) » Bloomington Police Serve Search Warrant at Missing Student's Apartment Building (6-7-11) » Friend of Missing IU Student Speaks Out (6-7-11) » "No New Revelations" in Search for IU Student (6-7-11) » Search Continues for Missing IU Student (6-6-11) » Search Expands for Missing IU Student (6-6-11)