RIO GRANDE COUNTY — The Rio Grande County Victims Advocate program received a donation on June 2 from the local Order of Eastern Star to help with costs associated with helping local victims. The organization was pleased to present Rio Grande County Victim Advocate Courtney Arthur with a check for $500.
The Rio Grande County Victims Advocate program assist victims throughout the county who are affected by crimes such as domestic violence, sex assault, assault, burglary, theft and many more. The program ensures that victims are made aware of the rights afforded to them under the Victims Rights Act. Such rights as to be informed and present at all critical stages of the criminal justice process, right to be treated with fairness, respect, and dignity, right to have input into the decision regarding plea bargains, and the right to be notified of any change of status. These are just a few of the rights afforded to victims of crime.
The Oder of the Eastern Star began in the mid-19th Century. Dr. Rob Morris is acknowledged as the “master builder” of the order. The members of the Order of the Eastern Star are dedicated men and women who sincerely reflect the spirit of fraternal love and the desire to work together for good by giving their time to meaningful projects that benefit mankind. “Eastern Star strives to build an environment for our members, and our Order, that is truly dedicated to Charity, Truth, and Loving Kindness by uplifting each other and through service in our local communities,” officials stated.
Arthur also recently submitted a grant that will help fund the program here and is awaiting results.
“This year, I took the opportunity and applied for the Victims of Crime Act grant, which is what we usually had through Alamosa, but we applied for it ourselves this year. If we are awarded, over the next two years we are hoping to serve 383 victims. Anything from child abuse, domestic violence, burglary and death notifications which means providing services, accompaniments, information about the criminal justice process, applying for victim compensation and pretty much anything we can offer to make the victim’s process easier,” explained Arthur.
Arthur requested $163,000, but the actual amount will depend on the grant makers deciding what would be appropriate for the grant if it is approved.
“We are not sure what portion of that will be awarded and that would cover not only my position, but training, travel, emergency shelter, resources for victims and other things related to victim advocacy. The grant could potentially cover pretty much anything I needed to aid victims,” Arthur said.
The grant was in-depth, and Arthur broke down what had to be included in the application, stating that it went so far as to having to list the supplies they would want.
“Things like printing supplies, relocation assistance, general training, emergency essentials and tuition support and continuing education,” she said.
The grant was submitted on Feb. 22 and will be reviewed by the board mid-summer with the hope that an answer will be sent by fall and grant funding beginning at the start of 2023. If approved for the grant, Arthur hopes to expand the victim advocacy program by offering additional services. Those services could include relocation of victims, food and emergency supplies, overnight accommodation and transportation and additional educational opportunities for her and her staff.
“I made sure to include the things that this program currently lacks like emergency shelter, emergency essentials, general training and mileage. As of right now, if we needed to transport a victim or put them up in a hotel, we have no funding,” explained Arthur.
According to Arthur, the donation from the Order of Eastern Star will go to assisting victims with safe housing, hotel rooms, transportation, emergency food, and many other services.