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 Welcome to our Member Spotlight Page. This special feature showcases GPVSB’s most valuable assets– our members! Spotlighting members from across the GPVSB spectrum, Member Spotlight reflects the rich tapestry of our membership and profiles active Non-profit and business organizations. If you would like to be featured in this section please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Create your own member story: join GPVSB today! 

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Victim Services

 


           

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Joan Suddaby

Executive Director, GPVSU 

 

People Helping People

 

             by Rachael Rode, Communications Specialist

 

                 

Joan Suddaby is the Executive Director at Grande Prairie and District Victim Services, which is located inside the RCMP detachment in Downtown Grande Prairie. They are primarily a referral agency, where their goal is to “meet with the individual and assist them with the court process.” To understand what that means to them and to their clients, Suddaby explained three important areas in which Victim Services assists its clients: restitutions, victim impact statements, and applying for financial benefits. 

 

 

                  

First of all, victims may write a restitution in case of a theft, which can be read during the court proceedings. Secondly, a victim impact statement may also be read during court proceedings. Last of all, victims can apply for financial benefits through the Victims of Crime fund. Victim Services is a referral agency because it doesn’t directly provide these benefits to clients. However, without the knowledge the agency provides, many victims would not be aware of the help available to them. 

 

 

                  

Not only does Victim Services help its clients in these practical areas, but also their court support worker can accompany the client during the court procedure, as well as keep the client updated on their file until it is completed, explained Suddaby. There are other ways Victim Services seeks to make clients more comfortable and alleviate apprehension while attending court. For example, if a client has never been to a courtroom, a representative of Victim Services will provide an orientation prior to the client going to court. There is one ‘soft room’ at the courthouse where the client may wait until it is time for them to attend court; this space is meant to provide privacy and a sense of security. 

 

 

                 

Victim Services’ area of service includes The County of Grande Prairie No. 1, Grande Prairie, and Spirit River Detachment areas; Birch Hills County; Saddle Hills County; M.D. of Greenview #16; and the Village of Rycroft and Town of Sexsmith. No matter where their clients are from, Victim Services leaves a lasting impact. “When [the victims] walk in that door their first time they have no idea what’s going to happen. And just having the staff or advocates being able to talk to them about the process, you can just see them leave and they appear relieved,” Suddaby said. Previous clients of Victim Services show their thanks in many ways for all the support that Victim Services provides. For example, Suddaby recounted a client they assisted two months ago who recently gave a financial donation, stating she’d “give more if [she] could”. Such a gift is a true reflection of the impact Victim Services leaves on its clients.

 

 

                  

Grande Prairie and District Victim Services provides service 365 days a year, 24/7. It’s no surprise that they need a strong volunteer base to support all the services they provide to victims. “We have volunteer advocates that assist us with the ‘on-call service’ which is provided after office hours,” said Suddaby, adding that volunteers can also perform the role of court support workers, complete administration tasks, and help out at public events as well as other aspects of community relations. Additionally, Victim Services is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. Like most non-profit organizations, Victim Services also hosts fundraisers to help offset the operating costs of the program.

 

 

                 

If you’d like to get involved as a volunteer, Victim Services will provide the training needed. They utilize E-Learning, an online training program which will provide information in relevant areas, such as sudden death, suicide prevention, tragic accidents, and more. Additionally, volunteers must pass an enhanced security check equivalent to RCMP clearance. Because of the long wait list, which is eight months to a year to get the security clearance completed, it can be hard to enlist volunteers. However, despite the delay in application and engagement, the difference that Victim Services makes in the lives of its clients, and your opportunity to be a part of it, is worth the wait. Currently, they’re recruiting Board Members and advocate volunteers.

 

 

                

“People want to help people. That’s why they volunteer,” Suddaby stated. It’s a simple reason, but it’s the heart mentality of any volunteer. Contact Victim Services as 780-830-5755, visit them on the web at grandeprairievictimservices.com, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to get involved. 

 

 

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Disabled Transportation

 


           

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Ken Murray

Disabled Transportation Manager 

 

Here and There

By Bryanna Webb, Project Coordinator

Edited by Rachael Rode, Communications Specialist

Many non-profit agencies in Grande Prairie go unseen and underappreciated. It’s the goal of GPVSB’s Member Spotlight to highlight some of these organizations and get the word out about how they contribute to our community. The Disabled Transportation Society (DTS) is one such agency. Bryanna Webb, Project Coordinator, sat down with Ken Murray, the manager of the DTS, to discover more about who they are and what they do.

As Manager, Ken Murray’s number one responsibility is to manage the bus fleet. He specializes in safety for clients as well as drivers. Other responsibilities of his include working with the City of Grande Prairie. Fundraising is another of his major duties as he coordinates the flow of donations, grant-application process, and DTS memberships.

The DTS has no exact start date. It was begun as a completely volunteered-based program, explained Ken Murray.  “We recycled when possible. Even the manager and drivers were included as volunteers and vans were rentals.”  Late 1970’s is when they became a registered charity and were able to accept donations. Currently, the DTS has grown to be a charitable organization composed of 25 persons. “There are currently nine busses with five more to come within the next couple months. In the beginning we only allowed disabled and then we decided to accept seniors,” Murray stated.  The DTS is concerned for the safety of the disabled and the elderly and the services they provide reflect that mentality.

They cover all of Grande Prairie and also extend their services to five kilometers outside city limits. This includes Clairmont, and for special occasions they will even travel as far as Sexsmith.

The DTS benefits the community and its individuals because the transportation offered helps the disabled and elderly to get around town with ease. Of primary importance are medical appointments, then work, then public schools, and lastly recreational, Murray explained.  The company has gone from serving just disabled individuals to mentally disabled people, seniors, and patients at the QEII hospital as well. “We are currently working to [incorporate] more recreational uses,” Murray mentioned.

When asked about challenges within the program, Murray said that growth came to mind instantly. Volunteers are in full-time demand as the DTS grows at 14% annually. They are currently looking into a fleet of busses that demand fulltime staff. As well, the DTS is pushing safety initiatives so they can be prepared to work with the fire department in cases of emergency. “We work as amateur psychologists, as some persons with mental disabilities cannot handle situations which include a change in routine, [such] as seating arrangements,” noted Murray. Furthermore, the Disabled Transportation Society is actively looking for sponsorship to assist those clients who cannot afford the membership.

Although working with the disabled and seniors may not seem like the most comfortable volunteer situation, it is often tasks outside of our comfort zones which yield the greatest rewards. People should realize that giving their volunteer time to the DTS is extremely valuable to the disabled and seniors, and also rewarding for the workers.  “Every day you can see the good [we do] in the community. Our number one [goal] is to make other people’s lives better by improving quality of life,” stated Murray.

The DTS is thankful to have kept many of the same volunteers since the organization has gone corporate, but they are also looking for younger volunteers to join their team. The spectrum of opportunities is wide, including volunteering at the DTS’s annual charity golf tournament, providing in-home assistance to the elderly, and assisting those using the transportation service, becoming a companion to the disabled and seniors.  While volunteering at the DTS, you can be sure that safety measures are always in place. Murray also highlighted an exciting opportunity for post-secondary students. “We are willing to assist college students and nursing graduates with practicums,” he said.

“It is a good feeling to be able to help those in our very own community. It is quite satisfying and appreciative work,” Murray commented proudly. Whether you’re young or old, the DTS needs volunteers like you to help the disabled and elderly get about town. To get involved, contact Ken via telephone at 780-296-4519.

The Disabled Transportation Society deserves recognition for not only the geographic expanse of their services, but also for servicing a wide spectrum of community members whom they value and appreciate.

 

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Disclaimer of Liability: This page contains links to third-party service provider websites. Grande Prairie Volunteer Services Bureau is not responsible and assumes no liability for the content or materials available on any linked third-party sites.

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