Crime victims' advocates are ready to listen
Volunteers help people understand their rights and connect with support groups
Sometimes the memories, tears and nagging questions creep in when everyone else has gone home for the day.
In Snohomish County, there is someone ready to listen, whatever the time.
The Everett-based Families and Friends of Violent Crime Victims runs a 24-hour crisis line. The agency relies on trained volunteers to answer calls once the office is closed for the day, giving victims and their families around-the-clock support.
"We get some people who call about having lost a family member or a victim who needs help getting services. It might be the middle of the night and they just need help," volunteer Belinda Gloyd said.
Gloyd, 49, is a teacher at Meadowdale Middle School in the Lynnwood area. She's been a volunteer for the victim advocacy group since 2005 after answering an advertisement recruiting for unpaid helpers. With a master's degree in counseling, the Marysville mom thought she'd have the skills to assist victims and their families.
"It's important to me in knowing that for a brief moment in someone's life I'm there in a positive way to stand beside them," Gloyd said.
The agency has advocates in Snohomish, Island, King, Whatcom and Skagit counties. They help people understand their rights as crime victims and connect them with services, such as support groups.
Along with answering calls from clients, the non-profit also counts on volunteers to assist in other ways.
Barb Skudlarick, 70, a retired nurse, once sat through a trial, taking notes, for a family who lived out of state and couldn't be the courtroom everyday. She called the family every night, relaying what had happened during court. The Bellingham woman says she wants families to feel that there is someone in their corner, even during their darkest times.
Some people find they aren't suited to work directly with crime victims and their families, executive director Marge Martin said.
Instead, they assist with organizing remembrance events, writing grants or providing technical support in the office.
"There are a number of ways to help us," Martin said.
The agency initially provides 40 hours of training over two weekends. Volunteers also are encouraged to attend yearly training sessions to become better equipped to assist victims and their families.
Gloyd says the agency takes good care of its volunteers, offering them support, too.
"You're just not left alone," she said.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to volunteer
A training session begins Sept. 8. to volunteer with Families and Friends of Violent Crime Victims.
To register, call 425-252-6081 by Sept. 3.
For more information about the agency, go to www.fnfvcv.org.
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