Nov. 8, 2004 – When Cynthia Farmer's phone rings, she never knows what will be waiting for her on the other end of the line. Farmer is a V.I. Victim's Advocate, one of 11 volunteers who work on a rotating schedule to staff the on-call service every night, helping people in crisis. The Victim's Advocate program is just one of the programs at Family Resource Center on St. Thomas that could benefit from a new committee being organized to help raise funds for the center.
"If a person is in trouble we show up at the hospital to be with them so they're not alone. We educate them on their course of action, on orders of protection," says Farmer, the volunteer coordinator for the Family Resource Center. "We let them know there's a shelter, so they don't have to go home. If the victim refuses to stay at the shelter and insists on going home, we try to give them a safety plan on what they should do if their significant other hurts them again. We leave the door open. If they don't come with us today, we'll still be there the next time they need us."
Victim advocates respond to an average of two calls a week. Sometimes hospital staff calls them in, other times the police department, and still other times the victims who have likely endured some type of domestic violence. All of the advocates have day jobsthey work for lawyers, the park service, own their own beauty parlors, or like Farmer, are full time students.
According to its mission statement, the Family Resource Center provides crisis intervention, counseling, an emergency shelter for abused women and children, court advocacy and other services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and other crimes. Victims are also given a hand with legal and financial assistance and with getting their lives back together.
"We get them on a plan, help them with jobs, resumes, help them transition to living on their own," says Shirma Henry, office manager. "We help them to become independent and strong."
The Family Center and its small staff of social workers, caseworkers, family therapists, youth specialists and office support staff rely on grants, donations, and good will to stay afloat. In an effort to raise even more money, the Center is forming an events committee to plan fund-raising activities for the year.
"When the activities are planned, one member will break off with a team of volunteers and run with the event," says Farmer. "We're looking at a talent show, fashion show, events to get the message of domestic violence to the people in the community that doesn't hear it. We would like to have a Latin night to teach the Spanish speaking community about the plights of domestic violence."
Some events would be used as educational formats to teach people about sexual assault and domestic violence. Other events would be strictly for fundraising. The first meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 13 at the U.S.O. on Waterfront. Contact Cynthia Farmer at the center at 776-3966 for more information.
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