If you’ve ever been the victim of a violent crime you know that your life is affected far beyond the initial violence of the crime; there are lasting physical and psychological effects. If the perpetrator of the crime is brought to justice, a victim has to face them again while trying to navigate the justice system, and deal with being the victim of a crime. This can be difficult under the best of circumstances and even harder when victims of crime don’t speak English or understand their rights. This is where Paula Williams and Community Advocates for Family and Youth (CAFY) step in.
Paula and CAFY work to provide a variety of services for victims of crime and their families. Paula recruits volunteer to serve as interpreters and victim advocates for victims of crime in Prince George’s county. Paula has gone through the training to become a victim advocate herself, which allows her to assist victims of crime on their path through the criminal justice system and to better recruit for the volunteer program. She’s able to speak first-hand on both the work that volunteers will be doing and the need to move victims of crime from being bitter to getting better.
It hasn’t been an easy road for Paula. She has faced a lot of difficulty recruiting volunteers because of how specific and demanding the task she’s recruiting for is. CAFY’s advocates go through a thirty hour-long training program which teaches volunteers how to serve the needs of victims of crime. They’re then paired with a victim of violent crime to help them through the court system, which is another five to ten-hour commitment. However, Paula has been able to recruit a core group of volunteer who are dedicated to helping members of their community navigate the justice system.