25 years helping victims of crime & trauma in Cold Lake & Bonnyville.
Cold Lake Victim Services and Bonnyville Victim Services celebrated their 25th anniversary on the evening of Saturday, June 3 at the Lakeland Inn in Cold Lake. The appreciation dinner included presentations which highlighted the groups’ accomplishments, and speeches by past and present board members, staff, and victim services advocates. Both not-for-profit organizations have grown substantially since they were known as Bonny-Grand Victim Assistance Society in 1992.
“During my first year we had 100 referrals. This year we have over 1000,” explains CLVS Program Manager, Dave Zimmerman. “The numbers have never stayed the same or gone down during the ten years I’ve been here,” adds Zimmerman. Last year, Cold Lake Victim Services, which includes 4 staff members, 9 volunteer advocates, 6 board members, and a Military Police and RCMP liaison officer, helped over 1500 people.
Debbie Winstone, the Bonnyville Victim Services Program Manager and caretaker of Odie the five-year old certified trauma dog, said they received 650 files last year. “But this year we have 100 more files then we did at this time last year.” Bonnyville Victim Services includes 3 staff members, 6 board members, 7 volunteer advocates, RCMP liaison personnel, and a court support worker.
Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland, Municipal District of Bonnyville Councillor, Fred Bamber, and Cold Lake RCMP Staff Sergeant, Jeremie Landry expressed their gratitude for all the work Victim Services provides in the community. Landry said, “It is truly amazing what they do. Their sole focus is to help those in need or those who have experienced tragedy. They sacrifice a lot of themselves to do this.” Bamber called the group, “super people” and congratulated them on their growth and for helping so many victims and their families navigate through difficult times.
Also in attendance were Linda Howe, the Assistant Program Manager for CLVS. She was the first volunteer advocate in Cold Lake. She shared stories about working with Bill Parker, the original Cold Lake RCMP liaison officer, who was also in the audience. During the evening, people spoke of the group being like family, and their involvement with the group, a calling.