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Volunteers Needed to Advocate for Survivors of Violence

a victim advocate speaks with a victim and her companion.

The Victim Support Team (VST) was called out by patrol officers late on a Saturday night, after a domestic violence assault. An ex-boyfriend broke into the victim’s apartment, in violation of a protection order, and was arrested at the scene. VST volunteers provided snack packs to the young mother and her two kids while they discussed priority needs. The apartment’s sliding glass door was shattered in the incident, and they needed somewhere to stay that night. After assessing there were no friends, family, or shelters available so late, the VST team helped place the family at a hotel where they could rest safely. Referrals were made to the Salvation Army for longer-term support, including a system-based advocate for next steps in the criminal case.

The incident above is just one example of how Seattle Human Services’ Victim Support Team (VST) is making a difference for victims of domestic violence and other crimes at a unique time of need. Trained VST volunteer advocates offer short-term advocacy, safety planning, and resource referral to survivors.

Are you interested in becoming a part of a team of trusted, trained, and culturally diverse community assets for people in need of support? The VST is currently recruiting nonjudgmental, compassionate community volunteers to become trained support advocates. Volunteers must be age 21 or older and pass a SPD background check.

a VST volunteer prepares for his shift.VST community volunteers come from all backgrounds and walks of life and are not required to have social work experience. The program provides free onboarding, training, mentorship, and opportunities to build community. VST volunteers operate in-person on the weekends as a mobile crisis response team, in partnership with the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and offer remote phone advocacy during the week.

“What a privilege to be present during those sometimes intensely private and difficult moments,” reflected a VST advocate on his 20th anniversary with the program. “It’s been a rich and rewarding experience.”

If you want to learn more about the impact of VST volunteer advocates, or you would like to apply, visit VST Volunteer Opportunities online. The current application period closes March 1, 2023.

Kaylee DimaggioContributor Kaylee DiMaggio coordinates volunteer programs in Seattle Human Services’ Safe and Thriving Communities division.

Posted in Volunteering