Executive Director, Petra Pfeiffer, thanks Jeannie Blakely on Appreciation evening.
Whenever there is a crime or tragedy, there is a victim.
The word ‘victim’ does not adequately describe the complexity of circumstances that many of the people that have accessed Victim Services undergo. Victims are people who are impacted in the aftermath of a crime, accident, disaster or emergency. There are no set of boundaries identifying who can or cannot, be a victim; age, gender, ethnic background, rich or poor. All people are vulnerable. Being a victim is not a sign of weakness or a sign of defeat. Instead, a victim is undergoing a tragic event that limits a logical decision making process. Victim Services focuses on drawing on the strength and resiliency that that person possesses to help them with moving on and moving forward. Wetaskiwin and District Victim Services provides the kind of support that people hope they never need, but are grateful for if they do.
The services provided by Wetaskiwin and District Victim Services are as diverse as the victims themselves. But, although the services may vary, the goal of Victim Services always remains the same; to help restore stability and a sense of safety to people’s lives following a crime or tragedy.
On April 10th, 2014 the staff, Board, Advocates, Family Violence Unit, RCMP and family members gathered to pay tribute to the volunteers who give so generously of their time and energy to help others. No one ever expects to need a program like Victim Services, but every year support is provided to hundreds of people with the volunteers logging up 13,000 volunteer hours of support annually. When on duty, the highly trained Volunteer Advocates, are on call twenty four hours a day, seven days a week (24/7) to respond to the needs of victims.
RCMP Inspector Scot Tod brought greetings from the RCMP and stressed the importance they place on the partnership with Victim Services. He commented about how grateful the RCMP are to have Victim Services Staff and Advocates tending to the needs of the victims of crime or tragedy enabling the RCMP to focus on the crime or incident.
Victim Services offers information for people on a variety of general topics related to the criminal justice system such as crime prevention, safety planning and legislation. Victim Services can provide or assist the victim's access to case-specific information which may include the status of the investigation, financial benefits, restitution, victim impact statements, and court dates. They connect victims with other community supports and provide referral services to other community resources, agencies and organizations.
Victim Services Advocates are highly trained volunteers who listen, comfort and reassure victims. They provide crisis intervention, emotional support and practical assistance. Services may be short term or long term, beginning from the time of first response by the RCMP, to the final disposition of the case by the courts.
Executive Director, Petra Pfeiffer repeatedly reflected on the importance and value of the volunteers. “You make a positive difference in so many lives of those who have been affected by crime or tragedy. Without the caring, commitment and hard work of our volunteers, our program would not exist. This is a special evening for Victim Services. An evening specifically set aside to provide special recognition and give thanks to all our volunteers. They are the people that ensure Victim Services provides the support, information and appropriate referrals to victims of crime or tragedy. Our volunteers are an immeasurable resource. We do try to measure their contribution by recording hours – and this year that number was 13,000 volunteer hours – but we can’t possibly in any way, record the benefits each volunteer is providing for fellow man and our community.”
Chair of the Board, Barry McDonald explained the volunteer Board is there to ensure the volunteer Advocates and staff have resources in place. The Board had a very active year. Some highlights include:
Created and implemented an Investment Policy that will assist with financial sustainability of the Victim Services organization in the future. Recruited new Board members using a systematic process to ensure prospective Board members that are best suited to fill skills gaps. Worked with Executive Director, Jeannie Blakley leading up to her retirement to ensure a smooth succession plan.
Hired Petra Pfeiffer as Executive Director
also hired Jennifer Baker as the Assistant Coordinator. Re-created the specialized Family Violence Unit in cooperation with the RCMP. Re-hired Jennifer Baker as the Family Violence Worker to work directly with two RCMP officers to follow-up with difficult and re-occurring offenders.Re-hired Jeannie Blakley on a part time basis as Assistant Coordinator. Hosted the most successful Charity Check Stop ever by raising more than $12,000. Reviewed financial processes and procedures and implemented changes to improve accuracy, reporting convenience and compliance with accounting procedures. Prepared a PowerPoint presentation to share knowledge about the services offered by Victim Services at public presentations. Streamlined the Committee structure to make it more functional and meaningful and active. Provided additional resources to enable additional volunteer, staff and Board training