Pima Co. Victim Services recruiting volunteer advocates - Tucson News Now

Pima Co. Victim Services recruiting volunteer advocates

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PIMA COUNTY, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

They're like the Red Cross for crime victims; they help people cope and recover.

But now Pima County Victim Services needs your help in the form of volunteer advocates.

Starting September 8th, training sessions will be held every Monday and Wednesday nights for aspiring victim advocates. 

These are people who volunteer their time to help community members in crisis. Last year, 140 volunteer advocates served more than two thousand victims in Pima County.

Paid personnel of this kind average about $18 an hour.  But as volunteer advocates, these people saved Pima County an estimated $433,000 last year alone. 

Here's how it works:

Pima County Victim Services is just that: help for anyone who's suddenly found his or herself in a traumatic situation.

That could be a crime of any kind, even a car accident in which somebody they love has been killed unexpectedly.

Victim Services Division is a function of the Pima County Attorney's Office.

It's been around nearly 40 years providing support, resources and services to those who need it most.

There are 28 paid positions within Victim Services.

But the lifeblood of the program are 140 volunteers who donate some 24,000 hours a year to helping victims in our community.

Because they're volunteers, many of these people come and go.

Which is why Victim Services recruits, trains and implements a new batch of volunteers every year.

Two informational sessions will be held in August, followed by two separate 30 hour training programs.

The idea is to prepare people for anything they might encounter as volunteer advocates.

Lupita Cruz started volunteering last year.

She recalls helping one woman whose son died in his sleep.

He suffered a heart attack and was just 35 yrs old.

"She didn't want anybody to approach her, to touch her, but she allowed me to be with her," Cruz says.

"And for me, it was a big impact. I'm here, just to be present. I didn't say a word at all, but when I left her she just gave me the biggest hug--and she just told me thank you."

Kent Burbank is Director of Victim Services Division.  He says it's a rewarding position for any person who's ever wanted to help someone in crisis.

"From college students to retirees and everything in between," Burbank says. 

"There's no specific background or training you need to have. We will provide all of that with you. All we need is for you to come to the orientation session, successfully complete the training and successfully pass a background check with the county attorney's office," Burbank says.

Information sessions will be held August 18 and August 25, from 6 to 8 PM, at Tucson Police Department's west-side substation, 1310 West Miracle Mile. 

Call 520-740-5525 to register. 

That's what Lupita Cruz did just over a year ago.  Doing so, she says, changed her life in a very positive way.

"It's extremely rewarding because you deal with so many people who are so different," she says.  "It doesn't matter the race, the color, we all suffer.  When they're having a situation, a hard situation -- we're there to pick them up."

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