AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Victims of sexual assault or domestic violence need more help from the community.
Family Support Services Helps victims in all 26 counties of the Texas Panhandle, and they say domestic violence and sexual assault cases are on track to exceed last years total, but the number of volunteers is staying the same.
A Volunteer Advocate sits with victims to make sure they feel safe and comforted while being examined at the hospital.
"I talk to them, and if they are a school kid, I ask them what grade they're in or what sports they like or sometimes I even tell them a little joke." says Mary Hefley a Volunteer Advocate, "I don't see what the nurse does. They have a sheet over them, I just talk to them."
This is an emotionally draining volunteer outreach, and because of the nature of the cases, the advocate turnover rate is higher than usual. Right now, the organization tells us the true need is during the overnight shift.
"It's difficult to fill the 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. that's early morning," says, Volunteer Advocate Coordinator Ione Mixon. "We need people who can be there to do that. We are not putting one person into that position all the time. "
79-year-old Mary Hefley is one of the volunteer advocates, and she proves there is no age limit on who can be a volunteer. She works with children who have fallen victim, Even though the cases she handles are tough, she feels rewarded helping those who can't speak for themselves.
"Well, I cant think of a better reward in my life than to be an advocate." Says Hefley, "It's something that is a sad situation, but when you're through, it makes you feel good that you were there."
If you are interested in becoming a Volunteer Advocate, here are the qualifications necessary provided by Family Support Services:
- Must be at least 21 years of age
- High school diploma or equivalent required, some college preferred
- Ability to work independently and responsibly
- Ability to work empathetically with people of all ages, sexual and gender identifications, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds in a professional non-discriminatory and non-judgmental manner
- Complete required 40 hours of Volunteer Advocate Training and shadowing experience until proficient
- Willingness to commit to minimum of one year of volunteer service with FSS
Valid Texas driver's license and proof of auto liability insurance
- May not be an active client of FSS for at least one year or has not been a recent victim of domestic violence
Here are the duties and responsibilities of a volunteer:
- To be available for a minimum of four six-hour shifts per month; although a minimum of six shifts is recommended
- To be at the source of referral (NTWH, The Bridge) within 20 minutes of original call from the hotline
- To provide clients and their families with emotional support, compassion, information and referrals as needed and to remain with the victim until the immediate crisis is past
- To adhere to agency rules and procedures
- To call the reporting line within 24 hours of the call in order to deliver pertinent information of the client (name, age, type of assault, contact number, brief narrative and whether or not permission to contact was granted
- To submit all required paperwork obtained from client within two working days
- To maintain the confidentiality of the client and agency information
- Attend monthly in-service meetings
For more information on becoming a volunteer, you can call Ione Mixon at (806)-342-2529 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.