State College, PA - Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) honored winners of the annual Governor’s Victim Service Pathfinder Awards for notable contributions to their communities and the victim service provider field. The awards were administered by PCCD’s Office of Victims’ Services (OVS) on day two of the three-day Pathways to Victim Services Conference.
“PCCD is at the forefront of the Commonwealth’s work to make sure people feel safe in Pennsylvania – by bringing together leaders from across the Commonwealth to find commonsense solutions to address the violence in our communities,” said Governor Josh Shapiro. “I am thankful for the opportunity to shine a light on the meaningful work PCCD is doing with community partners to support and uplift victims. My Administration will continue to champion investments in our communities and support our law enforcement and community-based solutions that keep Pennsylvanians safe.”
“Those who are closest to the pain should be closest to the power, and this year’s Pathfinder Award winners demonstrate that principle, day in and day out,” said Lt. Gov. Austin Davis, who serves as chair of PCCD. “Their advocacy for victims and survivors shows how everyday people can make a difference in the lives of their fellow Pennsylvanians. I applaud their service and hope it inspires others through their example.”
The 2023 Pathways to Victim Services Conference brings together more than 300 professionals for national keynote speakers, informative workshops, and networking opportunities; with more than 36 workshops to choose from in a variety of victim service centered topics. The Governor’s Victim Service Pathfinder Award categories, winners, and video profiles of the winners are outlined below:
Allied Professional Award: Jalla Atkins
Jalla Atkins has served as a member of the Montgomery County Sexual Assault Response Team since 2020. She is also the coordinator of the forensic nursing program at Abington Hospital, where she had a pivotal role in increasing their capacity by aiding in the creation of their SAFE Center. Jalla’s voice was vital to ensuring that the space was developed with the needs of survivors at the forefront, ensuring that survivors have a safe place to receive medical care.
Individual Organizational Capacity Building Award: Beth Struman
Beth Struman has been the Executive Director of Laurel House for over 18 years. During her tenure, she developed the Domestic Abuse Response Team Program, a 24/7 program that provides on-site advocacy to victims of domestic violence when called by law enforcement or medical personnel. Beth has also been cited for her funding skills, which resulted in a new shelter location.
Individual Direct Service Award: Erin Milbourn
Erin Milbourn is a licensed clinical social worker and Certified Victim Advocate with Victim Services Center of Montgomery County, Inc. Erin introduced and implemented alternative methods of treatment that focus on trauma and healing including Trauma Processing Yoga, Equine Therapy, Mindfulness, and Play Therapy. She also spearheaded interpreter and language translation services for diverse communities in Montgomery County which include immigrants, ethnic and racial minorities, and some with limited English language proficiency.
Survivor Activist Award: Deborah Irby
At 14 years old, Deborah was the victim of a stabbing. Through working with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHOP) Violence Intervention Program, she participated in a group intervention called BRAVE (Building Resilience after Violent Experiences) and began to heal and grow. Her leadership and compassion for others resulted in her quickly becoming their first Peer Mentor to lead the BRAVE intervention. She later accepted a position with the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health as a Youth Engagement Specialist and was promoted to Community Outreach Specialist where she currently serves.
The primary mission of OVS is to help victims of crime overcome their trauma by funding victim service agencies, providing financial assistance, and collaborating with criminal justice and allied professionals.
To carry out this mission, OVS administers and provides oversight to multiple funding streams, including federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant funds, as well as state Rights and Services Act (RASA) and Victims of Juvenile Offenders (VOJO). Collectively, these funding streams supported 254 victim services programs for FY 2022-23, providing vital services for approximately 342,035 victims across Pennsylvania.
Also administered by OVS, Pennsylvania’s Victim’s Compensation Assistance Program (VCAP) is a critical financial lifeline for people who have experienced crime victimization. On average yearly, OVS receives approximately 11,600 VCAP claims and pays $12 million in initial and supplemental claims to individuals in the aftermath of a crime being committed against them.
Learn more about OVS or the Governor’s Victim Service Pathfinder Awards, on the PCCD website.
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