Victim Services Toronto (VST) is the beneficiary of the proceeds accrued from this year’s Toronto Police Hold-Up Squad annual golf tournament.
A total of $3,000 was raised at the event in Muskoka.
The presentation took place at police headquarters on September 3.
“Every cent counts and every contribution counts,” said VST Executive Director Bonnie Levine who accepted the donation from Hold Up Insp. Lauren Pogue. “It is always the most meaningful when it comes from people who know you. It is the best contribution from anyone who receives our service and any community partner we work with.”
VST provides a lifeline for nearly 20,000 victims annually.
Those subjected to crime and sudden tragic circumstances can access the organization that offers response, trauma and support services 24 hours a day.
Supervised by crisis counsellors, volunteers provide crisis intervention and referrals, assist on the telephone or attend the scene as requested. They also aid with fundraising and other community outreach initiatives.
Levine said the funds will go to the Trauma Dog program.
Purchased in November 2014 at age nine, Dandy – a Yellow Labrador -- provides support and comfort to the organization’s clients.
“Dandy supports children, youths and adults who are in a crisis situation and is used extensively by the Service’s Human Trafficking Team for victims of human trafficking, especially when they are testifying in court and when they are giving statements,” she pointed out. “The trauma dog helps victims feel calm, focussed and cared for. She’s very reassuring to be there in stressful situations.”
Chief Mark Saunders took time out of his busy schedule to attend the presentation.
“As law enforcement, we all truly understand the importance and the value that Victim Services brings to our own organization,” he said. “When you have a unit like Hold Up, which is one of the hardest working units in North America, and you consider the amount of work and the type of work that they do, then you can grasp and appreciate why they would want to help an organization like Victim Services any time they get the opportunity to do so.
“Playing golf is fellowship with each other to try to decompress a little, but these officers fully understand that helping victims doesn’t stop after the arrest is made.”
This is the second year that Pogue has taken part in the golf fund-raiser.
“We utilize Victim Services and rely on them heavily for our victims of crime,” she said, of the people Hold Up encounters in their work who have been physically hurt or traumatized as victims of a robbery. “The organization is a huge support for our victims and we will do anything we could to assist them so they can continue with the great work they are doing.”
Detective Steven Campbell assisted Pogue with the presentation.
“I love playing golf and Victim Services is an organization we use a lot,” he said. “So it was very gratifying to be out there on the course this year knowing that the money we raise is going to a very worthy cause.”
About 90 golfers took part in this year’s tournament. In addition to Toronto Police, there were participants from Durham and York Regions Hold Up unit and retired TPS members.
Last year’s donation of $2,000 was used to sponsor an athlete for last May’s successful Special Olympics Ontario Invitational Youth Games in Toronto.