Each April, the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) helps lead communities throughout the country in their annual observances of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) by promoting victims’ rights and honoring crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf. At Serving California, we embrace this opportunity to support victims and their advocates, and dedicate the entire month to highlighting this area of our ministry.
The Bible is rife with scriptural invectives to care for others – particularly those who are on the fringes of society. Psalm 82:3 says “Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.” In Matthew 25, Jesus tells us that, truly, what we do for the “least of us,” we do for him, and in 1 John, we are warned, “whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” We take all of these commands very seriously, and have made it our mission, as an organization, to help those who need it – no strings attached, because we love our neighbor.
Thus, we have partnered with a network of various faith-based organizations who provide programs to women who have been through traumatic experiences – often, these experiences include addiction, abuse, sex trafficking, prostitution, or all of the above. Our programs give these women free room and board, often for a year or longer, and (more importantly) a new sense of self-worth and purpose. As they cultivate life skills and build relationships, the women we serve build a reserve of strength, independence, vision and ability that they previously might never have known.
We recognize that everyone has a story, and that oftentimes substance use is more than just an addiction – it is a method of coping that victims use to grapple with abuse or trauma that they have experienced. We want to support these victims, and that’s why we continue to sponsor the OVC Victims Rights Symposium in Los Angeles this month, where our Director of Operations, Stephanie Borges, will speak about our work. Won’t you join us this month as we take time to honor the stories of these powerful women, and continue to work toward amplifying their voices.