The San Miguel Resource Center experienced a record-breaking year in 2013, serving more victims of domestic violence and sexual assault than any year in the agency’s history. Although it is easy to see this news as a sad way to start the new year, the SMRC insists this is a great sign. Serving 33 percent more clients in 2013 than in 2012, we see the dramatic increase in people served as a sign that our extensive outreach is working and that fewer people are suffering in silence.
As community trust continues to grow for the SMRC, more people feel confident in referring friends and family members for support services, knowing that they will receive sound help and that all services are completely confidential. Identifying the exact reasons why more people are seeking help is difficult. However, there are a few areas where we see more victims coming forward. The SMRC enjoys strong working relationships with other service providers, including law enforcement, social services, the judicial system and healthcare providers. We have noticed a significant increase in referrals from these agencies, indicating that as a community, our approach is becoming more holistic. Also, the SMRC team of community peacemakers is stellar. Our staff, advocates and board are comprised of caring and proactive men and women who regularly bring in friends, family and strangers in need of help.
One of the largest increases this past year was the number of child victims we served. We attribute this increase to the strong relationship our Violence Prevention Education Program has developed with our service area schools. The SMRC provides violence prevention programming to all of the schools in San Miguel County and the West End of Montrose County. In 2013, we provided 531 classes for children in grades PreK-12. Students of all ages and school staff see the SMRC Prevention Educators on a regular basis, allowing them to build a strong social/emotional knowledge base and form trusting relationships. As students and staff become more educated and empowered, they have greater confidence in speaking out against interpersonal violence in their lives and the lives of others. Again, the SMRC sees the increase in child victims coming forward as a good sign, indicating that children, school staff and parents feel better equipped to stop violence in their lives.
Here are some of the highlights from 2013:
• The SMRC fielded approximately 2,436 calls on the crisis hotline, conducted 1,534 face-to-face contacts with people in need, and provided 52 nights of safe housing for victims fleeing abuse.
• Kara Johnson, SMRC Prevention Educator, was awarded the Rocky Mountain PBS “Be More Award” for her outstanding work in violence prevention education. Kara and the SMRC were recognized on a state level for innovative programming and the remarkable impact made on the lives of children in our service area.
• The SMRC trained and certified 30 new volunteers as domestic violence and sexual assault advocates in the state of Colorado. These new volunteers help with a number of SMRC endeavors, such as taking shifts on our 24-hour crisis hotline, helping at fundraising events and assisting with community outreach opportunities.
• The SMRC celebrated its 20th anniversary since the agency’s humble beginnings as the Tomboy House in 1993.
Here are ways you can support the SMRC:
• Donate to support ending domestic violence and sexual assault in our community.
• Attend the 19th annual Chocolate Lovers’ Fling on Feb. 1. SMRC’s biggest fundraiser of the year will feature “The Olympics” as the theme, with the region’s best professional chefs competing to create the most decadent chocolate desserts. The event also features prizes for best dressed and amateur chocolate, a silent auction, the popular wine toss, a 50/50 cash raffle and DJ Harry.
• Volunteer. Become a certified advocate or simply help with the many events that take place throughout the year.
• Learn about domestic violence and sexual assault. Education is the key to dispelling myths, ending the blaming of victims and preventing future violence.
• Visit sanmiguelresourcecenter.org to learn more about how you can help and to buy tickets to the Chocolate Lovers’ Fling.