Organizations providing care for crime victims facing potential - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Organizations providing care for crime victims facing potential funding cut

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

It's a congressional decision that could impact victims in a time when they need support the most.

At least five South Plains organizations could face cuts thanks to changes to the Victims of Crime Act Fund (VOCA) that many of them rely on - organizations like Voice of Hope.

"When somebody is convicted of a crime they're ordered to pay restitution and those fees go into a crimes victims grant," said Voice of Hope community educator, Leslie Timmons,"and they are directly intended to assist victims of crime, so no tax dollars are involved in this funding."

Voice of Help is a rape crisis center that aids victims in sexual assault cases.

"It's a huge, huge service that we provide, and nobody else provides that service," Timmons said. "It's hard enough to do the work that we do."

But earlier this week, Timmons found out their job could get even harder.

"To lose funding and try to keep our doors open is always a challenge for us," Timmons said.

As a nonprofit, Voice of Hope depends on VOCA to provide funds for their services.

"Our crisis hotline fields about 7000 calls per year," Timmons said.

Last year, Timmons said Voice of Hope helped 366 victims.

But she said to date this year, they have already worked with 323 victims; which is 19 cases more than last year at this time.

Over half of these cases, 53 percent, involve children ages 0 to 17.

"Doing some therapy work that we do with them, they go from not even being able to get out of their house to going back to work, going back to school and being productive citizens," Timmons said, "even to the point where they become advocates themselves."

With congress debating whether $1.5 billion could be "rescinded and permanently cancelled from the VOCA fund," Voice of Hope could be without about $97,000.

"It could mean cutting positions, it could mean cutting services, Timmons said. "It could mean not being able to purchase curriculums or equipment, or supplies that we need."

But Voice of Hope is not the only organization in this area that they say will be affected.

Timmons said other services that could face cuts include: Women's Protective Services, Legal Aid Society of Lubbock, Lubbock Victims Assistance, Crisis Center of the Plains and Lynn Co. Victim Assistance.

Kay Kaballero with the Legal Aid Society of Lubbock says the cuts would be detrimental to their agency, and would mean many victims of domestic violence would have nowhere to go for legal protection. They help about 600 victims a year.

"It's a whole network of services, hopefully to provide victims everything that they need to get through the healing process," Timmons said, "so it really is a network of people working together."

Which is why Voice of Hope hopes more voices will join them in their fight to not neglect those in need.

"You will know somebody that will need some services from nonprofit agencies like ours," Timmons said. "We don't do it for the money, we don't do it for the fame or the recognition. We do it because we have the opportunity to serve, and that's why most people are involved in nonprofits."

Voice of Hope has posted information on their Facebook page for anyone interested in voicing their concerns:

"To reach your Representative and Senator:

Call the Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121.

Choose Representative and then enter your zip code to be transferred.

When you are done leaving a message for your Representative, call back and follow the same process to leave messages for your Senators.

Or you can show your support on social media:

@InsertYourRepOrSenTwitterHandle Please protect the Victims of Crime Act. Rape Crisis Centers need to help victims on waiting lists.?#‎DontCutVOCA

@InsertYourRepOrSenTwitterHandle Domestic violence victims need VOCA to stay safe. Too many are turned away. #DontCutVOCA

@InsertYourRepOrSenTwitterHandle #DontCutVOCA when the FY 15 increase is just starting to help hurting victims.

@InsertYourRepOrSenTwitterHandle #DontCutVOCA just when survivors of sexual assault are finding courage to seek services."

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