Making a difference

Community members recognized for support of domestic violence survivors

BIG RAPIDS — Several members of the community were extended a token of gratitude for their support and work with survivors of domestic violence on Wednesday, Oct. 9.

During their monthly meeting at the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety, members of the Women's Information Service, Inc. Domestic Violence Response Team (WISE DVRT) recognized people in Mecosta and Osceola counties who work to help people and families impacted by domestic violence.

Among those honored at the meeting were Mecosta County 77th District Court Judge Peter Jaklevic, Osceola County Assistant Prosecutor Cameron Harwell and Michigan State Police Trooper Brian Lucha. Also recognized this week were several victim advocates with WISE.

Teresa Mora, WISE Osceola County domestic violence outreach coordinator, said they wanted to show their appreciation for the work these people do for survivors of domestic violence.

"We don't do any of the services that we do alone," Mora said. "Although everyone is a champion, we sometimes like to recognize certain voices that have stood out."

WISE Program Director Brittany Dudley added providing advocacy and support services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Mecosta, Osceola and Newaygo counties is a community effort.

"It's important for WISE that we have the community on board," Dudley said. "These are the people who interact with the survivors all the time."

Mora said victim advocates also play a large role in helping survivors of domestic violence because they work with individuals from the first point of contact through court proceedings.

"Victim advocates are the first line of compassion, of understanding and letting survivors know it's going to be OK," she said.

In addition to honoring people in the community for their support of WISE's efforts, the nonprofit organization also is recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month by hosting a variety of activities, including a personal hygiene drive at Ferris State University.

For more information about services available at WISE, call (231) 796-6600.