Program seeks to build volunteer force | NevadaAppeal.com

Program seeks to build volunteer force

Rhonda Costa-Landers
Appeal Staff Writer
Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal Assistant coordinator Traci T., left, and interim program coordinator Nancy Johnson talk Wednesday at their office about the Sexual Assault Response Advocates program being reactivated. The SARA program was nonfunctional over the past year, and is in the process of recruiting volunteers.
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The Sexual Assault Response Advocates program is looking for volunteers to support victims.

“Volunteers bring compassion and sensitivity to the situation,” said Nancy Johnson, interim program director of SARA. “We give the victim their voice back in the process and enable them to move on.”

Johnson said volunteers go through about 40 hours of classroom training. Topics include an overview of sexual assault, history of violence of women, social concepts, impact of sexual assault on victims, crisis intervention and self-care of the advocate. A background check is also performed on each volunteer.

Volunteers are on-call one week at a time every other month and are asked for a one-year commitment.

“We try to pair our volunteers together, we don’t just train them and turn them loose. They will go with a program leader once or twice before being paired.”

Volunteers should be at least 18. Johnson said a person who is capable of being empathetic more than sympathetic is important.

“Some former survivors (of sexual assault) who have worked through their own emotions are volunteers. We find listening is the key to a good volunteer.”

Classes for volunteers begin Sept. 13. All classes will be held in the evening with two Saturday classes and one Sunday class, eight classes in all.

“Everything the victim tells the volunteer is kept in confidence,” Johnson said. “For their own safety and emotional and physical well being.

“Our goal is to recognize the needs of the victim and get them the resources they need. To take them from being a victim to a survivor.”

SARA is a program provided by Advocates to End Domestic Violence and has been in existence for more than 10 years. The program has been missing from advocates’ offerings in Carson City for the last year due to a shortage of volunteers.

• Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at rcosta-landers@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1223.

You can help

WHAT: Sexual Assault Response Advocates

WHEN: Classes begin Sept. 13

CALL: 883-7654

CRISIS HOTLINES: 24-hour hotline, 883-7654; or Crisis Call Center, 784-8090 (Reno)

NATIONWIDE HOTLINE: (800) 656-4673