Being a victim of crime can cause lasting and life-altering effects; for the past 20 years Wetaskiwin Victim Services has been aiding those being affected by crime or tragedy.
This year marks Wetaskiwin Victim Services 20th anniversary in the community.
Housed in the Wetaskiwin RCMP detachment, the organization is mainly made up of volunteer advocates, board members, and a small percentage of paid positions — funded through the Alberta Human Services Family and Community Safe Program (FCSP) grant.
“We provide information, support and referrals to victims of crime and tragedy,” said executive director Petra Pfeiffer.
Without Victim Services working tirelessly behind the scenes of the community those facing the hardships covered by the organization’s services would be left without that instrumental support, and knowledge of other community services pertinent to their situations. For example, Pfeiffer says those at Victim Services do not serve as councillors but they do make referrals for those in need.
“If somebody becomes a victim of crime a lot of time they’ve never been to court. It can be scary,” said Pfeiffer.
“We cover the same are as the (Wetaskiwin) RCMP,” she added.
Pfeiffer says Victim Services also provides court support services.
Victim Services works closely and collaboratively with justice system and Wetaskiwin RCMP detachment.
“Most of our referrals come directly from the RCMP, but we also accept walk-ins,” Pfeiffer explained.
“And I think we have an excellent working relationship with the detachment.”
The organization operates as a non-profit with charity status. Most of its funds come from the Alberta Solicitor General, the Family and Community Support Services programs from the City of Wetaskiwin, County of Wetaskiwin and Town of Millet, as well as the Alberta Human Services FCSP grant. Other funds are charitably given by private donors and organizations.
“We’re very thankful to our funding agencies that have been instrumental to keeping this organization going for the past 20 years,” said Pfeiffer.
“And our volunteers of course,” she added.
Wetaskiwin Victim Services currently operates with 13 volunteer advocates, which is a fairly consistent number for the organization.
“Volunteerism in Alberta has gone down but I think our organization is very strong,” said Pfeiffer.
After putting their names in, volunteer advocates are carefully chosen, must pass security clearance and then receive comprehensive and ongoing training. “We provide ongoing training to our volunteers so they’re thoroughly trained to provide professional calibre services,” said Pfeiffer.
On April 27 Wetaskiwin Victim Services held a banquet celebrating 20 years of service to the community and gave a pat on the back to those who give their time and effort to the organization.
“It went very well,” said Pfeiffer, who adds the banquet was attended by advocates, board members and friends of the society.
Wetaskiwin Victim Services was started 20 years ago by its first executive director Jeannie Blakely, who has worked with the organization for its entire existence.
Pfeiffer says there are others with Victim Services who have also been involved for almost the entire span it has operated in the community. “Our advocates and board members, they’re very loyal.”