STRATHMORE – Strathmore Regional Victim Services Society (SRVSS) held a semi-formal dinner and dance on Friday September 21, at the Travelodge in Strathmore to celebrate their 15 year anniversary. Invited guests to the gala were past and current members of board of directors, as well as past and present advocates and others in the community. Lesley Hering, the SRVSS Program Coordinator, emceed the event and had much to say about the people involved in the organization. She spoke first about the 21 Advocates volunteering their time and energy to people in need at a time when they face domestic violence, suicides and accidents. The Advocates are people who support strangers when they are in pain and/or angry. “They are “irrationally passionate” about the work that they do” said Hering.
“No matter what the circumstance, whether it is a sexual assault, domestic violence, sudden death, next of kin death notifications or suicide, advocates walk beside a person assisting them in making sense of an impossible situation” she added. “These are not ordinary people …. They walk among us … but they are special!”
What we do hasn’t changed in the 15 years that we’ve been around – -
SRVSS provides 24/7 Crisis intervention to victims of crime and tragedy. Crisis intervention is just the beginning of what they do. After the crisis there is much work to be done such as providing information, referrals, court preparation and accompaniment. The SRVSS staff are not the experts so they refer them to all of the elements of the justice system including lawyers and Crown Prosecutors. As well, a wide range of referrals like lock smiths, food banks, counseling, shelter, Alberta Works, funeral information, grief counseling and sexual assault counseling.
Their work certainly doesn’t end at the scene. Victim Services assists their clients to regain control over their lives and develop a “new normal”. In closing Hering stated “Even if we can’t change anything, it is vital for our clients to be heard”.
Hering also thanked the rest of the Board members, the Emergency Services Charity Golf Tournament Committee and the RCMP Victim Services Liaison officers for their tireless efforts.
And to finish up her speech Hering left everyone with a shattering statistic: “Fifteen years ago the SRVSS assisted 25 people in our first year; in last 12 month period, ending July 31, 2012 – 754 men, women and children needed assistance”. There is no doubt the demand for these services is growing at a phenomenal rate and she wishes to reach out to others who may have the qualities required to become an Advocate and help to assist victims of crime and tragedy.
The requirements for becoming an advocate: minimum age of 18, must be a Canadian citizen, have use of a reliable vehicle and commit to 72 hours of on-call per month. Contact – 403-934-6552.