The Toronto Police Service Duty Desk presented a cheque for $2,500 to Victim Services Toronto (VST) on February 1 at police headquarters.
The multi-service agency provides crisis response, trauma and support services to victims of crime and sudden tragic circumstances 24 hours a day. Supervised by crisis counsellors, volunteers provide crisis intervention and referrals, assist on the telephone or attend the scene as requested and also help with fundraising and other community outreach initiatives.
Four years ago, VST purchased Dandy, a yellow Labrador, to provide comfort for victims of crime and sudden tragedy.
“The majority of the money we just got from Duty Desk will go towards our trauma dog program,” said VST executive director Bonnie Levine. “We just hired a secondary handler to work on weekends and that person is being trained.”
Levine said the trauma dog program has been very successful.
“It has helped clients, particularly young people who are providing statements to the police,” she said. “The dog helps them in court and with crisis counselling.”
The Duty Desk and VST have a close relationship.
“Our office is located right behind theirs,” Levine said. “When there are issues in the city, they advise us and let us know something might be coming. When there are drop-ins who might need some support, they will come by and ask us to come out and help people.”
This is the fifth year that Duty Desk has made a donation to VST.
Constable Joanne Tawton said the money was raised through a small canteen they maintain for headquarters employees to grab a snack during their workday.
“We do that because they are close to our hearts and they provide a service we feel we can’t do without,” Tawton said. “I have been at the desk for 10 years and there are numerous times that I have had to rely on their assistance.”