POMEROY — Meigs County Victim Assistance advocates Theda Petrasko and Shelley Kemper returned from the National Organization of Victim Assistance Conference in Atlanta with even more tools to deal with the results of violence.
According to Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney Colleen Williams, MCVA was one of 35 organizations in Ohio awarded a grant by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Crime Victim Services to attend the conference.
NOVA is one of the longest-standing annual training conference for victim advocates. More than 100 workshops were available for intermediate and advanced advocates, with education topics that include counseling and advocacy; restorative justice; program management; homicide issues; domestic violence; sexual assault; special concerns for children, elderly, and victims with disabilities; public policy; and collaboration.
Petrasko, Meigs County Crime Victims director, said the conference was worth the time spent and “we are coming back with a lot of good and useful information we need to help our victims.”
Certification is required for advocates. After becoming certified, they must complete 20 hours a year of continuing education to keep their Registered Advocacy Certification. The conference can provide one full year of continuing education units with the workshops available to attendees.
Kemper had just completed Advance Academy B.A.S.I.C.S. in London, Ohio, when she boarded the plane for Atlanta. The course runs a full week and is a major step toward being registered with the state as a victim advocate.
“We have had training on domestic violence, assault, violence against children, even violence against animals,” she said.
One of the workshops taught the advocates the important role pets can play in a victim’s life, and that sometimes the animal can also be a victim as a result of household violence.
“The course showed me how service dogs, or any pet, are a big part of people’s lives,” Kemper said, “and that we need to be able to understand and take into consideration the role they play.”
She went on to say she and Petrasko gained new friends that do the same work, and that “it was good to be able to discuss issues and our positions as advocates — and even our own families and our everyday lives — with other advocates.”
Both she and Petrasko agree that with more information and resources at their disposal, their advocacy will have the capacity to have a positive impact for crime victims in Meigs County.
Reach Lorna Hart at 740-992-2155, Ext. 2551