From the Desk of the Executive Director, Dr. Michaela Weber
As we approach the end of another year, I wanted to take a moment to reflect, share some thoughts, and most importantly, to say THANK YOU to our amazing VSS village of supporters for making it possible for us to carry out the mission of supporting crime victims and their loved ones through advocacy, education, and awareness.
For VSS, 2021 has presented with more challenges and changes than any other year. Much of what we experienced in 2020 carried over to this year, as we all continued to deal with much uncertainty, all the while compromising, sacrificing, and learning to live with the unknown. Despite the continued chaos and the many challenges this year, VSS doors stayed open without interruptions to our services. We did what we always do; we adapted to meet the ever-changing needs of those we serve, to remain a reliable resource in our region, in the aftermath of crime. While we have had to restructure and make changes to our programs, we are weathering the storm the best we can.
In 2021, VSS provided 3,776 hours of services to 497 (new) clients.
Over the past year, I have been truly inspired by the resilience and commitment of our amazing team of staff and volunteers. They are truly the brave ones – the ones on the forefront of helping those who are walking through some of the darkest moments of their lives. Every member of our VSS family gives unconditionally to its mission, and I am inexpressibly proud to work with such an amazing team!
Throughout my years of being in the victim services field, the one question I am asked the most is, “How are you able to keep going in a field that sees so much tragedy and darkness?” For me, the answer is quite simple – when we are able to assist the family who lost their primary breadwinner over Christmas to provide a few gifts for their young children; when we are able to assist someone with a victim impact statement so that her voice can be heard during court proceedings; when we are able to provide emotional support on our hotline for hours during the night, to a father who is grieving the loss of his child; when we can walk an elderly victim of fraud through the necessary steps to regain control of their life; when I see the adorable picture of our facility dog (Davie) drawn by a child witness whom he comforted during a grueling trial – I am INSPIRED. So, the answer to that question is inspiration. The journey from victim to survivor, that we bear witness to frequently – is inspiring. The fearlessness and grit of our Advocates, as they walk through a person’s grief journey hand-in-hand with them – is inspiring. The commitment I see from our community, to stand together and take action to drive social change for crime victims – is inspiring. The truth is, without inspiration and hope, there would be little motivation to walk through the darkness and come out on the other side. The stories of crime victims and survivors serve to remind us that our lives can be forever changed in a heartbeat, by something we never saw coming. They remind us why we must continue to stand beside them during their search for healing and justice.
While we reflect on the year behind us, I am focused on the great work ahead of us. Since the emergence of the first Crime Victim Service programs in the early 1970s, adequate, stable funding has been a persistent challenge. While government funding through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) provides the foundational capital for our Center, these federal funds dedicated to help victims of crime have faced depletion, and drastic cuts to victim service programs have resulted over the past year. VSS is no exception to this. The provision of quality services for crime victims requires a strong funding base, and no single source can meet the demand for the vast array of services that so many crime victims need today. As such, VSS continues to work toward broadening and diversifying its funding base. Without supplemental funding, the organization’s future is unclear.
VSS NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT NOW, MORE THAN EVER!
Your donation could help us bridge the financial gap and will go an extremely long way in ensuring services provided to victims continue uninterrupted and without further restrictions to our programs. Every donation counts!
If you are not in a position to provide a monetary donation at this time, there are other ways you can assist!
We implore you to share our mission with your individual networks. In a time where nearly everyone knows someone who has been victimized, or they themselves have been affected by crime, it is ever important to pursue avenues that engage and involve everyone across our community, to join us in our efforts. Because when even one person is hurt by crime, its consequences affect us all. Follow us on social media, check our website for updates, sign up for our emails, attend our events – and ask your friends to do the same, so that we can continue to become better acquainted with our community, and in turn, the community learns more about the our mission and services.
BE A BEACON OF LIGHT
Throughout this holiday season, I encourage you to consider sending a supportive message to our front line employees (Advocates) or to share a message of hope for individuals who are going through some of the darkest moments of their lives right now – grieving the loss of a loved one or navigating complex criminal systems as a victim. Send your inspirational messages to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will share your messages virtually with our community to brighten and inspire the lives of everyone who reads them!
From all of us here at VSS, we hope that this is a very special holiday season for you and your loved ones, and that the New Year brings you peace, good health, and happiness. On behalf of the staff and Board of Directors at Victim Support Services – Thank You!
You can donate online or send a check to P.O. Box 1949, Everett, WA 98206