Victim Services golf tournament a success; program advocates needed

A vital community organization received much needed support when Sylvan Lake and District Victim Services’ Annual Golf Tournament

Vimal Pillay of Red Deer Lions Club watches his putt neared the hole at Sylvan Lake and District Victim Services’ Annual Golf Tournament last Wednesday.

By Stuart Fullarton

Black Press

A vital community organization received much needed support when Sylvan Lake and District Victim Services’ Annual Golf Tournament was held at Sylvan Lake Golf and Country Club last Wednesday.

Covering the same area as the Sylvan Lake RCMP detachment — an area that, as well as the Town of Sylvan Lake, includes Bentley, Eckville and Benalto — the reach of Sylvan Lake Victim Services extends all over Central Alberta.

For that reason, fundraisers such as the golf tournament are particularly important.

“It’s our major fundraiser for the year,” said Victim Services assistant co-ordinator Angela Kinzel, adding funds raised help sustain the Victim Services program. “The main proceeds of the (tournament) funding go towards Victim Services advocate recruitment and training and towards the program in general.”

At a time when demand far exceeds supply, recruiting advocates for the program is more important now than it’s perhaps ever been.

Currently, only four advocates serve the entire Sylvan Lake RCMP detachment area. Those advocates are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Having more would allow for greater flexibility among the advocates, and lighten their individual workloads, according to Kinzel. Eight, she feels, would be an ideal number.

“Our goal is to have enough advocates that you only have to be on call one week of the month, but obviously when there’s only four of us, we can’t do that,” she said. “We are in major need of advocates.”

Victim Services advocates are volunteers who respond to situations dealt with by the RCMP where their information, support or assistance may be of help to victims of crisis.

Potential advocates are required to undergo a security check before undertaking training in more than 20 different areas of trauma, grief and crime.

Once fully trained, they may be called to assist the RCMP with any number of different situations. The wide spectrum sees them doing everything from offering support to victims of domestic violence, to notifying loved ones of a sudden death.

“They brush on a lot of different topics,” said Kinzel. “It’s anything the RCMP deals with.”

Compassion, good listening skills and a caring personality are the most important personal traits required to become a Victim Services advocate, she added.

It wasn’t known by press time how much money had been raised through the golf tournament. Kinzel said, however, that participation numbers were up from the last time the tournament was held in 2012, with 144 golfers taking part.

“In the last few years, we’ve averaged around 120 to 130,” she said. “This year it was sold right out.”

More information about becoming a Victim Services advocate is available by calling 403-858-7255. Because of the vastness of the area covered by the Sylvan Lake detachment, volunteers may come from any part of the Central Alberta area.

“It’s Sylvan Lake and district,” said Kinzel. “We cover Bentley and Eckville for the small towns, and then all the summer villages and everything in between — all the rural and urban.

“We’re always looking for volunteers.”