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South Valley Journal

Ending Family Violence a Community Effort

Jun 14, 2016 10:56AM ● By Briana Kelley

Community partners gather at the spring breakfast hosted by South Valley Services on May 10. Photo Courtesy of Briana Kelley.

By Briana Kelley | [email protected]

South Valley Services (SVS) aims to provide shelter, advocacy and prevention to end family violence in communities. SVS hosted a spring breakfast at the Viridian Center on May 10. The event was organized to introduce the services provided to the community and let attendees know how they can be involved.

Jennifer Campbell, SVS executive director, stressed to attendees the importance of partnerships and working together.

“That is how we stop violence,” she said. “Not one agency, not one person, not even one bed. It is through a coordinated services where we all link together and think ‘what can I do?’” Campbell said during her talk.

SVS opened in 1998 to provide safe shelter, resource and referral services and self-sufficiency programs for survivors of domestic violence. The agency’s threefold mission is to educate, empower and advocate. It works closely with community partners in order to better serve the community, according to the SVS website. It currently has five locations in Salt Lake County.

Campbell began as a volunteer and remembers one of her first assignments vividly. She had been put in charge of preparing a room for a family of six that would be arriving later. She remembers feeling frustrated as she put the beds together.

“We didn’t have enough pillows for the beds that day, and the sheets did not match, and I left the room thinking, ‘well, this is the best I can do,’” Campbell said. “Later, the advocate on shift told me that when that family came into the room, their 15-year-old daughter began crying, and I thought, ‘Oh great, it’s because she was disappointed,’” Campbell remembers.

Campbell said the daughter was appreciative of the service.

“She said no. The daughter hugged her mom and she started crying, and she said, ‘I’ll sleep safe tonight,’” Campbell said. “Her step-dad had been abusing her both physically and sexually for quite a few years actually, and she had the courage to come forward and to tell her mom. And so they had left, knowing they were not safe. No one deserves to not be safe in their home. No one deserves to have to leave to get help. We as a community can bring help to those that need it. We can help stop violence,” Campbell said.

SVS has recently been able to better serve victims of severe violence and those at risk for homicide due in large part to the Lethality Assessment Program  (LAP). LAP is an assessment used by law enforcement to reduce risks and save lives. If law enforcement on the scene determines that a person is at risk for violence and homicide, he or she can connect the victim directly and immediately with service providers.

LAP has strengthened the relationship between law enforcement officials and service providers to support victims with a variety of services, including counseling, housing, medical, financial and legal needs. Since partnering with West Jordan Police Department last September, SVS has seen a 20 percent increase of those in need of shelter services and a 70 percent increase in requests for case management services.

“It has been so successful in West Jordan; we are finding so many individuals that we actually expanded it to West Valley in January and will, in the next few months, be expanding it to South Jordan, to Draper and hopefully to more departments throughout the valley,” Campbell said.

Through this breakfast and other education events scheduled throughout the year, SVS hopes to inform residents of these services and enlist the community’s involvement. Coralee Wessman-Moser, a Herriman City Council member and board chair on SVS, addressed attendees on ways to help.

“I would like to share four ways in which we can help,” she said. “We can give financially. We can give our goods, we can give our volunteer time, and we can give our influence. No donation of time or resources is too large or too small. Volunteers, youth groups, Eagle Scout candidates, corporate partners and government agencies make a daily, meaningful difference in the lives of our neighbors, relatives and friends. Your support directly impacts our ability to help put an end to family violence.”

SVS Community Resources Centers are currently located in West Jordan City Hall, Riverton City Hall, West Valley City Hall and the West Valley and Kearns libraries.

“SVS benefits Riverton residents by having the Riverton CRC in our city offices where any resident can come in, and at no cost to them, receive services that help them navigate the waters of family violence,” Riverton Councilmember Sheldon Stewart said. “I became involved in this program initially through a neighborhood Christmas Party where instead of doing neighbor gifts we donated to SVS. This started my interest in the organization and my involvement continued from there. I personally have seen the benefit of these services and wanted to do more after touring their facilities.”. Stewart also serves on the board and has been actively involved in SVS in Riverton.