October 21, 2021
Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office Seek Volunteers for Victim Resource Center
The Bernalillo District Attorney’s Victim Resource Center’s advocates and volunteers have been working remotely since the beginning of the pandemic. Now, the Center is preparing to provide more in-person services, just in time for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, recognized in October of every year.
“People have access to resources immediately,” Leslie Ulibarri, Victim Advocate Administrator said.
Ulibarri said the Center provides victims a safe place to navigate throughout the legal process in collaboration with various organizations. For example, if a victim is displaced due to a domestic violence incident, the Center can connect them with resources to get them emergency housing assistance. That type of assistance is extremely important for victims experiencing trauma, Ulibarri said.
According to a 2015 report by the New Mexico Coalition of Domestic Violence, domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year, the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.
“We work every day in conjunction with various organizations to help victims get compensation or other types of assistance,” Ulibarri said
Before the pandemic, the Center also had a representative from the Domestic Violence Resource Center of New Mexico in the Office daily to help victims in need. Ulibarri said the Center is able to provide prompt assistance, thanks to help from the volunteers who are on-hand to support victims and their families.
“Our volunteers enhance almost all areas of our Office,” Ulibarri said.
From accompanying victims to court, to providing case updates, the Center’s volunteers are an intricate part of ensuring the victim has the support to help navigate through a difficult time.
As the Center prepares to shift back to being in the Office more, Ulibarri said they’re actively recruiting volunteers who have a passion for helping victims of crime.
Volunteers undergo 40 hours of courtroom training and 40 hours of training within a division in the Office for specific training and should be willing to give four hours a week or 16 hours per month with a one year commitment.
Victim Resource Center volunteer, Stacy Rice said it’s rewarding supporting victims in court and helping explain the criminal justice process. In her five years as a volunteer, she said her training helped equip her with the tools to advocate for victims.
“For many, going to court can be very intimidating. The terminology can be confusing and they are oftentimes anxious, worried or frightened,” Rice said. “[Victims] need someone by their side.”
Rice, who has a paralegal degree, said she loves the law and enjoys being in the courtroom to witness the judicial process first-hand.
“It’s gratifying to know that I can contribute to helping victims of New Mexico Domestic Violence,” Rice said. “There’s nothing like it.”