Recipients of the 2015 Victim Services Awards of Distinction
Recipients of the 2015 Victim Services Awards of Distinction are:
Michele Anderson, Toronto
Michele Anderson has been providing support to victims of crime for over 25 years, most recently as a human trafficking specialist with Covenant House. Working closely with members of the Toronto Police Services' human trafficking enforcement team, Michele is known for assisting victims by connecting with them quickly and without judgment. She provides victims with support and guidance, often accompanying them to court and helping them understand what to expect as they testify against their traffickers and abusers. Michele has used her expertise and experience to train police officers and city employees. She is praised by her co-workers for her dedication and work ethic, and is considered a role model for both Covenant House staff and the victims she supports.
Mary Pat Bingley, Smiths Falls
For two decades, Mary Pat Bingley, a registered nurse, has been the leading force in supporting victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in Lanark County. Since its inception in 1994, she has led The Lanark County sexual assault and domestic violence program, which works with emergency departments of local hospitals to provide specialized care and counselling to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. To ensure someone is available to support victims and those who care for them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Mary Pat has been on call for the past 20 years. It is not uncommon for survivors to stay in touch with her long after their initial contact to let her know what a difference she has made. Mary Pat recently received a lifetime award from Lanark County Interval House.
Pamela Cross, Kingston
Pamela Cross is a widely respected lawyer who is known for her expertise on family law issues as they relate to violence against women. She is the legal director for Luke's Place Support and Resource Centre for Women and Children in Oshawa, and has been an educator, trainer, researcher and writer on the topic of violence against women and the law for many years. Pamela has developed and delivered online courses for many organizations, including the Law Commission of Ontario. She is also a member of the teaching faculty of the National Judicial Institute, where she plans and delivers educational programs to Canadian judges. In addition to her professional work, Pamela contributes countless volunteer hours, provides pro bono consultations, serves on many not-for-profit boards and provides valuable mentorship to young lawyers.
Cathy Danton, Richmond Hill
Her own experience with violence and abuse inspired Cathy to give back to her community. She's been a passionate volunteer with Victim Services of York Region for more than eleven years. As a single parent, Cathy is committed to raising her three children while balancing full-time employment and countless volunteer hours assisting victims of crime. She began with York Region as a victim response volunteer, making herself available at a moment's notice to provide emotional support and practical assistance to countless individuals. Now a team leader, Cathy consistently goes above and beyond to make a difference to those impacted by crime or tragic circumstances. She has been recognized by the York Regional Police and in 2014 was awarded the Victim Services of York Region Service Excellence Award.
Anna Amy Ho, Toronto
At age 13, Anna lost her mother and grandmother in a tragic murder-suicide. Victim Services Toronto helped Anna through this difficult time, and four years later, she used her experience to become an advocate for victims' rights. Through her involvement with the Jeffrey Baldwin inquest, the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth and more, Anna has played an important role in helping improve child abuse intervention strategies and child welfare. She also advocates for youth in care as an advisory council member on the Crown ward education championship team and as an ambassador for the Children's Aid Foundation of Toronto. Anna is currently a student placement crisis counsellor with Victim Services Toronto. She is expected to graduate with a degree in social work from Ryerson University in spring 2015.
Robin Kerr, Sault Ste. Marie
Robin Kerr is known as a true leader and builder of victim services in the District of Algoma and the north region. She has served as the executive director of Victim Services of Algoma for 20 years, and has trained hundreds of volunteers to provide effective and compassionate assistance to victims in crisis or vulnerable situations. Robin has worked with and led many teams, including the volunteers that provided crisis intervention at the 2012 Elliot Lake shopping mall collapse. In partnership with the OPP, Robin set up a command post at the scene to provide updates to family, friends and citizens. She remained on-site over the next four days, assisting families, arranging for professional counselling services, and providing continuity of service.
Barb McIntyre, Toronto
Barb McIntyre is considered a pioneer in the field of child witness court preparation. She was instrumental in the development of What's My Job In Court? -- a creative and age-appropriate tool that helps teach child victims about the court process. This resource is widely used in victim/witness assistance program sites across the province. Barb also helped to implement the benchmark "J" court model at Old City Hall courthouse in Toronto, where a dedicated child abuse team and closed-circuit television help child victims provide testimony. As a program manager for child victim witness programs in Toronto, Peterborough and Barrie, she is continuously researching tools and approaches to ensure exceptional services. Barb is highly regarded for her warmth, passion and dedication to serving vulnerable people.
Francesca Pisano, Peterborough
Francesca began her volunteer journey with the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre as a placement student, exceeding all expectations with her ability to provide exceptional support to sexual violence survivors. As a result of her dedication and positive impact on clients, the agency not only developed its first peer support program, but named one of its streams of volunteer opportunities the Francesca stream. Recently, Francesca became a crisis support facilitator with the centre, answering the 24-hour crisis support line during the hours it is closed. She works full time but remains committed to dedicating countless hours to support those affected by sexual violence, and to influencing social change within her community.
Rev. Sky Starr, Toronto
As an active member of Toronto's Jane and Finch community for over 38 years, Rev. Sky Starr has pioneered multiple outreach activities to provide support for residents impacted by violent crime. As the founder and director of Out of Bounds, a grief support program, she provides crisis and trauma support to youth and families who have lost loved ones to gun violence. She is often found on the front lines in her community, providing support and counselling to grieving individuals and families. Rev. Starr also recognizes the need for prevention efforts and has implemented programs such as Fathers Across Cultures, which promotes the role of fathers to help reduce violent crime in the community.
Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women, Toronto
The Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women was established in 1992 to help empower immigrant women facing domestic abuse and other barriers during their process of settling in Canada. The centre has created a program called Reduce Abuse to help the women move towards financial independence. Over the last five years, the centre has assisted in over 1,500 cases of domestic violence and in 2011, it won the Mayor's Community Safety Award.
Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres (OCRCC), Sarnia
The Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres (OCRCC) is a provincial umbrella organization whose membership includes sexual assault centres across Ontario. It works with diverse partners, networks and groups to advocate for the needs of sexual violence survivors. In 2011, the coalition partnered with Action ontarienne and the Ontario Women's Directorate to lead the development and implementation of the first provincial Sexual Violence Action Plan. In 2012, OCRCC developed a public education campaign called draw the line that engages Ontarians in bystander-intervention strategies. It is committed to supporting survivor-victims by offering recommendations to governments at all levels on how to improve contexts, conversations and services for victims.
Safe Centre of Peel, Brampton
Known for its warm, supportive environment and as a safe place to heal, the Safe Centre of Peel is a family justice centre that provides accessible, multidisciplinary supports and services to survivors of violence and abuse. Consisting of 17 organizations, 10 of which work together in one location, the centre ensures the complex needs of survivors are met in the least intrusive way possible. Its centralized intake system, information sharing protocols, and co-ordinated case management and service plans help lessen the traumatizing effect survivors can experience when they have to tell their story multiple times.
Hamilton Police Service, Victim Services Branch Volunteers
The victim services branch volunteers of the Hamilton Police Service have been providing services to victims of crime and trauma since 1992. The branch has over 80 dedicated volunteers who are vital to the program's 24 hour on-call service, 365 days a year. These volunteers selflessly donate their time to provide crisis intervention to victims, as well as administrative support, mentorship, volunteer recruitment and crucial ambassador work. In 2013, the branch was recognized by the International Association of Chiefs of Police with an award for excellence in a victim services program.
Victim Services of Algoma - Volunteers, Sault Ste. Marie
Victim Services of Algoma and its trained teams of volunteers have been providing services and support to victims of crime and tragic circumstances for more than 27 years. In 2012, the organization was involved with the large-scale disaster recovery efforts during the Elliot Lake shopping mall collapse. The rescue operation took four days to complete and Victim Services of Algoma volunteers staffed the command post 24 hours a day, providing refreshments, meals, personal care kits and crisis intervention to those waiting to hear news of family and friends. The citizens of Elliot Lake were grateful that informed and knowledgeable volunteers were on-scene quickly and continuously to provide crisis intervention and support.
Victim Services of Leeds and Grenville, Brockville
Victim Services of Leeds and Grenville is approaching its 10th anniversary. It has evolved from one staff member to a large community service. Its unique programs involve community collaboration and partnerships across various sectors, including the development of a protocol with Children's Aid to ensure child and domestic violence victims do not fall through the cracks. The organization has been the driving force behind the high risk elder abuse review team, as well as S.T.A.R. (Supporting Teens At Risk), a first-of-its-kind program for youth victims of crime. They also offer an in-demand mobile tracking system for high-risk survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence and elder abuse. This system meets the unique needs of rural areas.