Strathmore Regional Victim Services Society
In 1996, following a number of traumatic events in the Strathmore area, a group of dedicated volunteers gathered to establish a Victim Services Team to assist RCMP in the area communities including Gleichen and Chestermere.
At the time of its conception, victim service units were a relatively new thing for our area so the committee decided to train our volunteer advocates by utilizing local resources and the Calgary Police Service. The first major training was to certify all volunteers with CISD training. 16 community members including 10 VSU, members from the Crisis Shelter and other agencies spent a weekend being trained and certified. They met twice a month, once for training, and once for social time and debriefing. Both were vital to nurturing the team building.
The first volunteers were identified by a simple nametag, and a royal blue sweatshirt. The resource was made available to the RCMP on a 24/7 basis. They were reached using pagers and cell phones. The advocates attended sudden deaths, accident scenes, domestic situations, and other situations where the attending officers felt they could be of service. A good relationship was developed within the detachment, with time spent in the detachment coffee room after a call out, processing what had happened. It was a unique and mutually beneficial interaction.
The original board consisted of Chris Godler (RCMP) Dave Morton (Community) Donna Hallett (Community) Dawn Nelson (Clergy) Olga Pitts (Community). Paul Hurl was the Staff Sergeant and was highly supportive of the efforts of this group. Original Volunteers were Reta Penrod, Vicki Penrod, Maureen Ulman, Richard Barbeau, Dawn Nelson, & Shauna Riegert. All volunteered many hours for training and on call involvement.
On May 20th 1997, the Strathmore Regional Victim Services Society was incorporated under the Alberta Societies Act.
It is wonderful to see that these early beginnings have resulted in our community having a trained and willing group, to meet the ongoing needs of our community. The availability of provincial support makes the process viable, and a much-appreciated program to further the care of victims in our community.