There is a new person leading the way at Ponoka Victim Services.
For the past five months, Brittany Sande has been steering the ship as the organization’s program manager. Previously, Sande had worked as the part-time administrative assistant before spending a year as the group’s assistant program manager.
“The benefit of being an advocate is people appreciate us. We get them the right forms and help victims through the court process, since most of them have never been through it before,” she stated.
“I really see the value when there is a sudden death or a suicide involved — when the family wasn’t expecting it and at their end, they need that support or a voice that knows what needs to be done when the family simply doesn’t.”
Ponoka Victim Services, operated by a volunteer board of directors with volunteer advocates, provides assistance to victims of crimes or when tragedy strikes.
“Advocates will come for anything from a sudden death to suicide, to accompany someone to court and for support and anything in between,” said Sande.
She added there are 11 advocates in Ponoka. They usually rotate on-call for either 12 or 24 hour shifts. When advocates are needed, police contact Sande, who then dispatches out advocates.
“The advocate will either go to the detachment or elsewhere — such as an accident scene or the hospital — to help the victims. It all depends on what the circumstances are,” she explained.
At the moment, she believes there is a good number of advocates, but added that it doesn’t hurt to have more if anyone is interested.
“Our board keeps the program running, while I deal with the advocates. We are always taking applications, mainly due to the fact it can take a long time to get a security clearance,” she said.
As for what Sande would like to accomplish for the organization, it’s really all about maintaining the connection Victim Services has in Ponoka.
“A lot of the time, the public only knows what we do in troubled times, because that’s when we show up. So, just putting that out there and doing that community involvement — whether it’s different types of fundraisers, bringing in public speakers and other things like putting on the mock crashes at the schools.”
To learn more or to get in touch with Ponoka Victim Services, contact them at (403) 783-6539 or check out their Facebook page.