Victim services in need of volunteers

Posted at 10:39 AM, Jan 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-02 17:38:11-05

An important group of people who help people and the community heal after tragic events need volunteers. 

The victim services department with the Waco Police Department not only assists police officers, but also people who have been traumatized by crime. The group provides information on counseling, and help calm children who get caught up in crime scenes.

The department operates 24/7, but is now faced with a dilemma because they need more people to help them, help the community.

Melissa Beseda is the director of the victim services unit, and she said they usually have at least 25 volunteers, but only have 15 at the time. She said that impacts how they respond to calls.

"It keeps us from going out and really helping those victims we've had some calls where we said, 'O.K., well we'll contact them later by phone'...we can't go out there and make contact with them right away," Beseda said. "By adding more volunteers, and filling those shoes, we can actually go out and do what we need to do and help those victims," she added.

Sheri Weber is a victim services volunteer, and she said she knows first hand how important the unit is, because she once needed their help.

"Back in July, my son was involved in a hit and run auto-pedestrian accident on Waco drive," Weber said. "We immediately went to the hospital, [and] whenever I got there, I saw one of my fellow victim services partners," she added.

Weber said seeing one of the women she volunteers with in her time of need, helped her understand just how important victim services is.

"It meant the world to me because just her being there gave me  a sense of peace," she said. "That's what victim services is all about... it made me want to do it even more."

Both Beseda and Weber said they hope people in the community will step up and volunteer, so that the unit can continue to support the community they way they feel they need to.

"It's not just helping those victims, it's helping those officers, it's helping the department, it's helping the community," Beseda said. "I don't know what to say other than we need them [volunteers]."

"Please, please, please, come and volunteer with us," Weber said. "Being out there and helping each other will bring the community together."

The victim services unit is now accepting applications for their upcoming volunteer training academy. The deadline to turn in applications is Feb. 1, and they can be done online, or setting up a time to stop into victim services to complete the application.

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