Looking Back as we Look Ahead
Written by: Leslie McPherson, Programs Administrator
As we begin another fiscal year, it’s a great time to reflect on everything Victim Support Services (VSS) has achieved in the last year (July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021). And what a year it has been! As the world grappled with a pandemic, the need for victim services remained constant. VSS altered its programs accordingly, to maintain the delivery and integrity of its services. Since then, VSS staff have adjusted to working remotely, and providing the majority of services virtually. Although challenging at times, our quality of services has remained the same, and in fact, the number of individuals serviced across all of our programs tripled from the prior year.
Here are some notable highlights from our year:
- While the pandemic prevented us from hosting our annual Scott Tompkins memorial golf tournament in October, VSS instead hosted our first virtual auction Fall Fundraiser, raising $18,000
- The Office of Crime Victim Advocacy (OCVA) awarded VSS a five-month special training grant, which allowed VSS to plan and host a series of FREE mini-conference days for over 300 Crime Victim Advocates across WA State. Topics covered included cultural awareness and racial equity, homicide and healing, mindfulness, self-care/vicarious trauma, and more
- We hosted three Core Academy Trainings, qualifying 51 new Victim Advocates to provide services to individuals hurt or harmed by crime
- VSS provided $11,400 in emergency financial assistance to crime victims, ensuring safe lodging for survivors, gas and transportation to get to court hearings, groceries, security cameras, moving expenses, impound fees, and more
- In the Spring VSS hosted its first virtual walk/run “46 For 46” fundraiser honoring 46 years of providing free services to crime victims and their loved ones. We saw participants from coast to coast and even out of Country. What a wonderful feeling to have folks coming together to support a mission, without any geographical limitations! This event raised nearly $26,000
- We hosted four FREE, virtual community education workshops teaching victim rights, the civil legal system, personal safety and victim impact statements
- By the end of its fiscal year, VSS had successfully served over 521 clients, totaling 4,775 hours of advocacy, responded to 2,216 calls and texts on the 24/7 statewide hotline, provided outreach and awareness to 9,141 community members and partners, including training 1,945 individuals, trauma-informed therapy for 27 clients, and volunteers donated almost 80,000 hours’ worth of services on the hotline, courtroom support, outreach, and more
As we reflect on the past year, we are incredibly thankful for the continued support of our community. While there was some initial concern and uncertainty about how to best serve the community during a pandemic, combined with a loss of federal funding for the new fiscal year, we were able to band together as a team and navigate the challenges quickly. We have certainly learned much and grown in strength as an organization. Creative strategic planning, along with a strong, dedicated team of VSS Rock Stars ensured that we could adapt to a changing landscape, and keep our doors open, while also providing the same level of trauma-informed, person-centered, culturally, linguistically, and developmentally appropriate support to individuals who have been hurt or harmed by crime. No matter what curve balls life throws, our mission and purpose hold strong, and we will always remain true to the core belief that all individuals victimized by crime deserve assistance; no one should walk this journey alone, and no matter what obstacles we may face, we will do everything in our power to find innovative ways to sustain our programs. We look forward to what this fiscal year will bring, as we enter 47-years of serving the community, and we are ever grateful to walk in hand with our VSS community of supporters.