• REAL LIFE STORIES

    RL's STORY

    A Homeless Veteran Finds Help

    Veteran R.L. was found living on the streets in Dutchess County, NY. During WestCOP’s SSVF initial screening process, he was found to be suffering from mental and physical disabilities and would require extensive case management services.

     

    R.L. was immediately referred to the VA, Vet2Vet, and placed on the Veteran's Task Force Master List. After conducting their own screening and assessments, Vet2Vet connected the client to mental health services. In the meantime, WestCOP's SSVF program quickly provided R.L. with EHA services at the Hawthorne Suites in Dutchess County, NY. We rapidly reached out to the VA and within 48 hours, R.L. was contacted by his VA caseworker and shortly after by telehealth. R.L. showed no sign of COVID-19 during his medical review. The veteran's VA caseworker maintains close contact with the client and visits him once a week at the hotel for wellness checks.

    Alice Edwards

    FGP Volunteers for 35 Years

    Ms. Edwards has spent 35 years volunteering with the Foster Grandparent Program. Undoubtedly, she has left a positive impression on countless kindergartners who passed through the Liberty Central School District. At the age of 100, the only thing that prevents her from working with the children today is the Coronavirus.

     

    Rachel Bayer, one of the classroom teachers she worked with, has many kind words to describe Ms. Alice Edwards. The students 'Grandma Alice' mentored have made significant growth with her unending support. They can identify all 52 letters and sounds, 22 sight words, and many students have excelled to a level 'A' reader. "She was always very loving, incredibly kind, and a hard worker. She came in every day with a big smile and an eager attitude to help the children. Grandma Alice developed such a wonderful relationship with her students. I will miss her very much."

     

    Alice Edwards is FGP's most senior Foster Grandparent. At 100 years old, she is healthy and remains active in our program. She often states that "she will continue to serve the children at Liberty Elementary school for as long as she can." She was given an award for serving 35 years as a Foster Grandparent, our longest-serving volunteer. Her secret to longevity? No smoking and an occasional glass of wine.

     

    Ariane

    ECAP Volunteer

    This summer a shy, soft-spoken young lady came into ECAP with her mother to drop off food donations. She expressed an interest in volunteering opportunities but was unsure of what project she could undertake in the height of the pandemic. After a few discussions with Ariane, she decided that she and a group of her friends would conduct a clothing drive. With minimal coaching, Ariane organized, mobilized her friends, and executed a massive clothing collection and distribution in the community.
     
    "The work that I’ve done with ECAP has strengthened my connections with the community. I have learned to be more appreciative of what I have learned and how a few acts of service can make a difference in people’s lives. In addition, aiding in voter registration has taught me of the importance of a single vote in an election and in the future I plan on registering to vote immediately when I reach the legal age.
     
    Denise has been a great help in organizing all of these service opportunities and coordinating between the volunteers and people of the community. My time at ECAP has truly changed my role within the community, and I look forward to continue volunteering in the near future."

     

    We're Still Here

    Reaching out to victims of violence

    There is a woman who is working from home living with an abusive unemployed spouse and her children. She has no place to feel safe but when she goes out to the grocery store, she calls her trauma therapist for a session. A man who has been abused by his partner texts our advocate and receives assistance with safety planning. A college student who has been a victim of sexual violence calls our Helpline and speaks with one of our trained volunteers, is connected with our community prevention educator, and is receiving advocacy and support through Zoom meetings. A client who is in need of New York State Office of Victims Services compensation and assistance from our partners at Legal Services of the Hudson Valley with her immigration case drops documents off at our office, sliding the papers under the door for our Spanish-speaking advocate to submit. A child who was sexually abused by a neighbor receives a virtual expert forensic interview at the Child Advocacy Center; our staff provides therapy and follow up advocacy for his mother. A woman who is incarcerated in a New York State prison and has been sexually harassed receives advocacy and therapy in a “safe space” by phone through the Prison Rape Elimination Act Hotline. Parents whose son was murdered in a hate-based crime have received assistance with funeral expenses, trauma-focused therapy, supportive advocacy, and referrals for bereavement counseling; though these services have been provided over the phone, the caring, support, and understanding of the impact of crime on families have provided hope within their grief and loss. A mother and her daughters have been able to attend Healthy Healing workshops on Zoom connecting with our staff and other survivors of intimate partner violence. She is being prepared for her court case and will have virtual accompaniment to court with our advocate.
     

    Our stories are varied and unique to each person we reach out to, engage, support, advocate for, counsel, and provide therapy to. The pandemic has caused a major shift in our services delivery systems, but not in our dedication to Helping to Heal.

     
    When WestCOP temporarily closed its doors in March 2020 due to the pandemic, victims of sexual and domestic violence were left feeling isolated and fearful of accessing outside services. With technology, creativity, and commitment, the VAS staff immediately went to work raising awareness that "We Are Still Here." A strategy of social media, virtual platforms, phone access, helplines, and volunteers got the word out and we were able to successfully continue our work.