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Jelena Woehr

Last year I spent my 1% service hours (and many more!) with Victim Outreach Information, an organization that provides crime scene victim advocacy services to eight police departments in the western suburbs of Denver. The letter is from my first year volunteering -- sadly the final one I received got lost in a move, but I had nearly 2,000 total hours by the time I left. On my on-call nights, I wore a pager and any of our eight PDs could summon me to a crime scene to provide immediate victim services, with the goal of increasing safe outcomes for victims of crime and reducing the harmful lingering effects of trauma.

Honestly, it was so rewarding that for most of my time volunteering, I would flippantly say, "I think I get more out of it than the victims do," when people asked about it. (Not that I really enjoyed a pager waking me in the middle of the night, but I'm a night owl anyway, so even that wasn't too bad.)

But then on Christmas Eve I ran into someone who spotted my pager and thanked me. When I used the usual dismissive line, he stopped me and explained that he'd been a child who received services from a victim advocate after a traumatic incident. He credited that with helping him start a successful healing process that led him to be a successful soldier, a husband, and (at the time) an expectant father of his first child. He was at Walgreens on Christmas Eve buying snacks for his pregnant wife.

Whoa...

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