Advocates looking to fill position

Spanish-speaking coordinator for crisis support services is moving on

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After two years as the Spanish coordinator for Advocates-Crisis Support Services, Shelly Spackman is moving on.

"It has been an experience of a lifetime," she said. "The job means a lot to me. I just want to be a mom for a little while."

Spackman, who is originally from Colombia, said that during her time with Advocates, she learned a lot about Craig and developed some great relationships.

"I'm glad I got to do it," she said. "It has been a great experience. I am going to walk away with a lot of knowledge."

Advocates-Crisis Support Services offers five programs to the community of Craig -- one of which is a Spanish program.

The Spanish program is designed specifically to help Spanish speaking victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse.

"We're reaching out and letting people know that, although you may be undocumented, you do have rights," said Pat Tessmer, the executive director of Advocates. "The biggest thing is that we're here for support."

Spackman's last day with advocates is Friday, and Tessmer said they are looking to fill the position.

"Ideally we'd like to hire pretty quickly," she said.

Tessmer said the person they are looking to hire must be able to speak Spanish and know about different Spanish-speaking cultures. The person also must be able to work in the United States and pass a background check. The new person also will be trained extensively about the issues the program deals with.

Tessmer said the position of Spanish coordinator is essential in any community -- and especially important in a community such as Craig.

Tessmer estimates that 15 percent to 20 percent of the Craig population is Spanish-speaking, and she anticipates that the population only will increase.

"That community is just going to get larger because of how close we are to Steamboat," she said. "The whole community is desperate for Spanish-speaking people to provide that liaison."

Spackman said she has done a lot of work for Advocates, but there is more that needs to be done. She recommends that the next person who fills the position have an open mind, strong empathy and a desire to advocate for human rights.

Tessmer admits that Spack--man's workload may have been too much, but she said the experience with Spackman will make the transition to a new Spanish coordinator easy.

"We've learned we need to share the workload with the non-Spanish speaking (staff)," Tessmer said. "Were going to work with the new person to (set boundaries) so they don't get overwhelmed."

Despite the fact Spackman is moving on, Tessmer said the program would not have functioned without her.

"Shelly has been really instrumental in letting folks know we have a Latino outreach program," Tessmer said. "She took (the program) from nonexistent and has really shaped it so the next person will have a much easier job."

Applications for the Spanish coordinator are available at the Workforce Center. Applications may be submitted in English or Spanish. Anyone who has questions about the program can call Tessmer or Spackman at 824-9709.

Luke Graham can be reached at 824-7031 or lgraham@craigdailypress.com

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