SIOUX CENTER – She’s a crime victim advocate for Family Crisis Centers, but she spends her days full time at Promise Community Health Center.
Kelsey, who has been serving in the position since since Aug. 1, is at the forefront of a pilot project that aims to reach out to crime victims in northwest Iowa in a new and innovative way through the partnership of the two Sioux Center-based organizations.
|Kelsey, a victim advocate for Family Crisis Centers,|
is serving her role full time at Promise Community
Health Center in Sioux Center. The two nonprofit
organizations are partnering on the project as
another means to better reach out to victims.
Kelsey started working for the Iowa Domestic Violence Helpline operated by Family Crisis Centers in May after graduating from Northwestern College in Orange City. She then was approached by FCC executive director Shari Kastein in June about whether she would have an interest in the victim advocate role.
“As Shari explained the idea to me, it just seemed like a perfect fit,” Kelsey said. “I originally went to college for Spanish translation and interpretation but later found that I had a passion for this type of work, too. I always wondered if there may be a job out there that would merge those two passions. Little did I know as I was finishing my studies at Northwestern College, FCC and Promise Community Health Center were partnering together to write a grant that would eventually fund this position. Now, after tons of training, I am finally ready to take on this new role.”
The project was made possible through a $235,000 federal grant awarded by the Iowa Attorney General’s Office from the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) fund. After the template is developed and refined at Promise, Family Crisis Centers will expand the project by initiating two more partnerships in Storm Lake and Carroll during the first year of the program. The program might be eligible for two additional years of funding.
Kelsey, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, will provide a full range of services to victims, including crisis intervention and response, at Promise as she gets established in her position.
Here are her reflections about her role:
Q: Why do you think it’s a good idea for Promise CHC and Family Crisis Centers to partner together to offer victim advocate services onsite at the health center?
A: Family Crisis Centers is always looking for better ways to reach victims. One place we were finding a lot of people falling through the cracks was in the health-care system. Patients trust their doctors and nurses and may choose to disclose to them about violence going on in their life. Aside from providing a referral to FCC, there was not much that health-care providers could do. For many reasons, such as unsafe circumstances or lack of transportation, these patients would often not take that next step. This partnership is all about bridging that gap – making health-care providers’ jobs hopefully easier by allowing them to make a simple, more immediate referral to an in-house advocate and breaking down some of those barriers for victims.
|Kelsey promotes that she is bilingual|
and can help people in both English
and Spanish with this sign in her room
at Promise Community Health Center.
Q: Why did this role interest you?
A: This position is the perfect marriage of my passions. It is sometimes a bit intimidating to be the pilot program for not only the other two advocates that will eventually also fill this same role at other clinics, but also for similar programs throughout the state. However, I think that this was a challenge I was more than ready to take on, and I have loved getting to be part of the development process of this new program.
Q: Why did you originally become interested in going into victim advocacy work as a career?
A: As a Spanish interpreter, I wanted to be a voice for those without one. Victim advocacy does this in a whole new way: Not only can I help bridge the communication gap for Spanish speakers, but I can be a voice for victims as well.
Q: How do you hope you can help people in this role?
A: I hope to be able to bring some clarity and understanding to victims in the region. This is tricky terrain on its own, even without a language barrier. I hope to be able to help victims in any way I can and be a voice for those that don’t have one.
Q: What are your initial impressions of Promise as an organization?
A: I was very surprised with the extent of Promise’s health care. Being able to have your health care, dental, vision and mental health needs met all in one place just makes sense. It’s great that Promise is always growing and changing their needs to fit those of their patients.
Promise Community Health Center, headquartered in Sioux Center, is the only Federally Qualified Health Center in the far northwest corner of Iowa. Promise provides medical, prenatal, dental, vision and behavioral health services. To learn more, visit www.promisechc.org and watch this video.
MORE ABOUT KELSEY:
Kelsey grew up in Alton and graduated from MOC-Floyd Valley High School before going on to Northwestern College in Orange City. She and her husband live in Orange City. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, sewing, doing crafts and being outside.
TO LEARN MORE:
For more information on the crime victim advocacy partnership project between Promise Community Health Center and Family Crisis Centers, read this story.