Victims' group seeks volunteers

Volunteers' best are wanted for life's worst in Moffat County as a local victim's service group seeks extra help.

The Moffat County Victims' Assistance program is training new recruits in a 20-hour program running over a series of Monday nights, said Sue Andrews, coordinator of the assistance program.

Training could cover Monday nights for the next six weeks, depending on how prospective volunteers absorb the material, she

said.

"We really need to know where each volunteer stands on certain issues," Andrews said.

Five people are now enrolled in the training, which covers topics such as child death, advocacy, and procedural questions of working

with law enforcement, victims and their families.

Eligible residents must be 21 years old and submit to a background check. Otherwise, a good car, on-call availability and a desire to help within certain boundaries are all that's needed, according to Pat Tessmer, executive director of Advocates' Crisis Support Services.

Trained volunteers are among the first in contact with crime victims or trauma patients' relatives.

They're often told to just show up somewhere.

"We don't know what the call can be until we get there," Andrews said.

All of which takes a certain type of person.

"People have to empathize but have strong boundaries ... not friends but able to provide professional services," said Tessmer, adding that some false assumptions exist with the job.

"A lot of people think of this work as (involving) women, but for this program it's not," she said.

Andrews said help is particularly needed in the daytime in a job that has seen an increase in calls concerning crime victims.

Of the 458 calls handled by advocates last year, 164 were crime related and 294 concerned relatives of trauma.

"We're seeing a higher percentage of crime victims each year," Andrews said.

This is attributed to the group's relocation to offices inside the Moffat County Public Safety Center, several said.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.

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