Another victim-centered week, as our thoughts go to the uptick in homicides, the use of firearms, the trauma in our community, and the well-timed arrival of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which begins this Sunday, April 18.
There is no time like the present to take a deep dive into what our community needs, in terms of harm reduction and harm recovery, and an honest look at whether and how best we meet those needs. And so, the true bright light of the week was finding the right director of the Victim Services Division.
She said yes! Virginia Rodriguez (pictured) is returning to PCAO, where she was once a Victim Advocate, after several years at the state Attorney General’s Office and the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. A bilingual native to the Old Pueblo, Virginia brings a lifetime of built-in relationships throughout our community and Arizona. I know her experience, her bright and warm personality, and her skills will lead our beloved Unit well.
What’s more, he said yes! Wendell Hicks, retired Executive Director of the Southern Arizona Aids Foundation (SAAF) is going to meet with the Victim Services Division for a full assessment of how the expert staff, advocates and compensation unit can best bring their dreams together for the next era of this incredible group. Wendell is donating his time and expertise, because the reputation of the division inspires such an amazing gift.
I took a long walk downtown this week with James Gierke, executive director of Homicide Survivors, Inc., and discussed the history of the birth of Victim Services here in Pima County, the national model it became, the heights it has achieved, and the places it can grow and adapt to meet this century’s community needs. Onward!
To be continued,