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Volunteers are critical to the Crisis Center’s success

Elly Harper, 80108 resident, is a volunteer at the Crisis Center and has volunteered for nonprofits for many years. Harper said, “There’s always a need for volunteers, and it can be whatever you have the time and commitment for. Why not now?”


By Lisa Nicklanovich; photo courtesy of Elly Harper

Elly Harper of Timber Canyon carries a grey backpack with her wherever she goes because it saves lives. Harper is a volunteer at the Crisis Center (CC), and as a victim’s advocate, she carries a Lethality Assessment Program (LAP) backpack and a phone when on-call. Harper may receive a call from a law enforcement officer who is on the scene of a domestic violence call, and using the LAP program, they will determine the lethality of the situation (if the victim is at greater risk for homicide) based on the victim’s responses to 11 “yes” or “no” questions. The collaboration between Douglas County law enforcement and the CC, with this evidence-based model, proves to have a positive impact on victim safety and, ultimately, saves lives.

Harper said, “It takes so much strength and courage for victims to make a call [to law enforcement] under dire circumstances, not knowing what the repercussions will be. When I’m talking to a victim, the whole point is to get them safe for the next 24-48 hours and to set up a follow-up call if they want one.” The follow-up call directs the victim to the immediate services they may need such as a legal advocate, counseling, equine therapy, shelter, or a program that will help the victim advocate for themselves; all services provided by the CC.

Harper has worked on domestic violence issues on a volunteer basis for more than 10 years in various cities. Harper was a high school teacher, but with multiple moves for her husband, Bill’s job, she found it challenging to continually get re-certified in each state, so she found her way to volunteering. Harper’s daughter, Anne, is the clinical program manager at the CC, and when Harper and her husband moved to Castle Rock three and a half years ago to be near their grandkids, Anne immediately tapped her mom, with her educational background and years of nonprofit volunteering, to come to the CC.

Jennifer Walker, executive director of the CC said, “The community is the key to the success of our programs.” Walker and Harper both stressed the need for volunteers and the vast array of volunteer opportunities that exist. Harper said, “We need more community involvement as the area is growing; volunteers just have to have a willing spirit. Domestic violence is an important issue to me because it is a hidden problem and the people who are affected often have nowhere to turn.”

Upcoming events include the Future for Families Gala on November 10 and Operation Elf during the holidays, which matches clients with giving families, church groups or businesses. Visit www.thecrisiscenter.org for more information on volunteering or donating.

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