45 years ago when Lola Linstad and Linda Barker came up with the idea to build a support network for families of missing persons, nobody could have imagined the impact they would have. What began as 13 families meeting in a small building to share stories, has grown into a robust Crime Victim Service Center that provides FREE services to individuals, their loved ones, and entire communities affected by crime, in five (5) counties in western Washington. Fast forward to 2020 and Victim Support Services (VSS) has 10 full time staff, 15+ volunteers, and five dedicated office spaces in the regions served. Additionally, VSS manages and monitors the only statewide toll-free Hotline/Text line for crime victim resources and support, and provides trauma-informed therapy to residents of Snohomish and Skagit counties. VSS also introduced its first K9 unit this year, with facility dog, Davie, and his handler, Melissa!
Victim Support Services works to promote the healing of people impacted by crime and trauma, with the hope that they can eventually lead healthy, productive, and inspired lives. Crime victims suffer psychological trauma and a myriad of other hardships as a result of criminal activity. They experience disruption of their lives and often of their livelihood. Many report confusion about the criminal justice system and are left vulnerable and sometimes unable to cope with the subsequent demands of a criminal investigation, and the practical problems that unfold. This is where VSS typically steps in with trained victim Advocates who can walk with folks through an often lengthy and emotional legal process, as well as the physical and emotional healing process for victims. Our Advocates constantly strive to learn new strategies to inform and improve practices, so that services are specifically focused on creating welcoming, safe and supportive environments for trauma survivors. These services are available to anyone regardless of whether or not they have reported to law enforcement and regardless of immigration status.
This year has been mentally and emotionally challenging in ways that no one could have predicted, and we have worked diligently to survive and serve. VSS continues to be an important resource within the community thanks to our incredible staff, Board of Directors, grant funders, annual sponsors, individual donors, volunteers, and community partners who share our mission and passion. Right now people are more isolated than normal, which adds another layer of complexity for those struggling to navigate a new ‘normal’ after traumatic experiences and loss. COVID-19 related life changes and stresses are compounding, as social frameworks that usually exist to provide a supportive presence or accountability are crippled. Yet amidst the uphill battle that has been 2020, our amazing Advocates have stayed the course, serving countless victims of crime at a time when they have been more vulnerable than ever. Additionally, our village of supporters has continued to show up in force, and we could not be more grateful. Thank you to everyone who gave, shared, and helped us to spread the word about our mission and purpose throughout the year!
We MUST continue to provide communities harmed by crime with services that help them rebuild, and heal. This is why we come to you as the holidays near, and as we prepare to press the “reset” button and start a new year with a clean slate; to ask you to continue to walk with us toward our purpose of rebuilding lives through empathy, advocacy, and resilience.
Your generous contribution will support the work of our professional advocates who serve as every victim’s bridge to the resources and information that helps them understand their rights, navigate the criminal justice process, feel empowered, and get the assistance they need to move forward with their lives. By choosing to donate, you would not just be supporting Victim Support Services, but you would also be investing in your community and its future.
Thank you in advance for your kindness and continued support!
On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of VSS, we wish you and yours a happy holiday season. Take care of yourselves and each other.