Dawn Bivens: Not enough on Advocates

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I would really like to thank the Daily Press for its article on the Advocates programs and domestic violence. I think it's time for these organizations to be acknowledged for the good they do in our community.

Unfortunately, I am disappointed in the bare mention of the Victims Advocates program. This is the program that is most tied to our community, though if you have not suffered any kind of tragedy, you may not know that it exists. This program consists of the program director and a few volunteers. Why just a few? Maybe it's because these people take turns being on call 24-7, and that's the easy part of their volunteer work.

Whenever there is a tragedy, advocates are called to aid the victims. This means all the victims, the direct and indirect, the physically injured and the physically sound. They inform the victims of their rights. Then they do whatever they can to aid those victims. They go to the hospital for moral support. They care for children when the adults are trying to deal with troubles. They connect people in need with the resources of our community.

The town should consider the reactions travelers have when they find themselves in a jam here. The Victims Advocates are there to help get them on their way. What amazing things do those simple (and sometimes not so simple) acts of kindness do for the image of our town? What about those people from neighboring counties here for recreation who are caught in tragedy? They are treated just as humans in need, the same as the residents in our county, and they remember that if this had happened elsewhere they would not have received the same kind of care.

The police officers are professionals in the law aspect of these situations. The EMTs are experts in the care of the physical health in the same way. In this county we are very lucky to have excellent and dedicated officers and EMTs. Victims Advocates are extraordinary people who are there to succor on a more personal level. They are there for you, God forbid that spmething terrible happens.

Keep in mind that most of these people are volunteers who have full-time jobs. Yet they make the care and aid of their fellow people a priority that is seldom seen elsewhere. Also, a very important note, they are committed to confidentiality. Victims need to feel they can be as open as possible.

I also would like to credit the woman who is nearly single-handedly responsible for the program. Sue, the director, is a woman dedicated to the aid of her fellow humans. She created the volunteer network and trained them all. She doesn't sit behind a desk in a sterile office and call her troops to arms. She is out in the community, helping people. She is tireless. It is a great loss to our community that she is soon moving to Gillette. This woman has been so essential to the program that it is quite a blow that she no longer will be "out there" for all of us.

I am so aware of the Advocates because my mother is one. I never ask, and she never tells what it is that she is doing for the Advocates at any time. But I see her carrying her bag with her everywhere; I know that she is prepared at all times for what may come. She carries games to divert children, teddy bears for small children. She doesn't smoke, yet she carries cigarettes, just in case. Her bag is packed with care for victims in need, all provided from her own pocket.

We have spent dinner together only for her to be paged away before she has eaten a bite and I've seen her come home from working 16 hours and be paged before she sleeps two hours. And I have let her into my house in the middle of the night, red and swollen-eyed, to just hold her 2-year-old granddaughter and remember miracles. I know that the other advocates can tell similar stories. The job is not easy on the body, but the mind and faith are most heavily battered.

I want the community to be aware and grateful for the wonderful program and people who are here to help them. If you are involved in a tragedy and would like an advocate, just ask the officer. I know that Victims Advocates are always looking for more volunteers, as well.

Dawn Bivens

Craig

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