'Hurting all around'

Volunteer shortfall has Advocates-Crisis Support Services searching for helping hands

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When asked how many volunteers Advocates-Crisis Support Services is seeking to bolster its service, volunteer Karen Aragon offers a straight-forward response.

"I'll be honest with you, anyone who has a commitment and love for the work, there's a place for them," said Aragon, who serves as the group's youth services coordinator and also helps coordinate services for domestic violence and sexual assault victims.

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She added, "There isn't any one program in particular. We're hurting all around. All of the programs are in need and could use help."

Advocates-Crisis Support Services is a private, nonprofit group aimed at helping victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes. The group hosts an informational meeting at 6:30 p.m. today at Moffat County High School for anyone interested in volunteering as a victim's advocate.

Operating under the Advocates' banner are five wide-ranging services: Latino outreach, domestic violence and sexual assault advocates, Moffat County Victim Assistance Program, the Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners and a youth violence prevention program.

Today's meeting will include a broad presentation on the five programs. Then, interviews will be set up for those interested, and eventually volunteers will be placed in the area most suitable, Aragon said.

Before being rolled into service, Advocates volunteers must undergo training, some of which require hours of time. For example, Aragon said, domestic violence training requires 40 hours and Victim's Assistance Program training takes 25 hours.

Although becoming a volunteer entails time committed to training and always being on-call, Aragon said serving others in desperate need is rewarding.

"You know, from my standpoint, what I see is people with a huge heart who want to make a difference," she said of the current volunteers. "I think it takes a special person to want to help someone else and do what they can.

"They're just amazing people."

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