Victim Services Toronto (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
The annual Chief’s gala is VST’s major fundraiser.
Almost 900 guests attended last year’s event that raised a record $301,533.54, almost $40,000 more than the previous highest amount.
Chief Mark Saunders presented the proceeds from last November’s gala to VST executive director Bonnie Levine on March 28 at police headquarters.
Levine thanked Saunders for his support.
“If it wasn’t for his deliberate, consistent and staunch support, we wouldn’t be here celebrating this tremendous success,” she said. “Throughout his policing career, Chief Saunders has been a great ally, community partner and friend to Victim Services Toronto and we are forever grateful.”
Levine said the proceeds from last year’s gala will enable VST to provide comprehensive services to 3,344 people who have been victimized.
“It will also enable us to operate the entire agency for 1,323 hours, or more than 55 days of operation,” she added. “It’s huge and goes a long way.”
With 26 full-time equivalent staff and 200 community volunteers, VST – it also depends on corporate and private donations -- provides services in over 35 languages.
“VST helps people get through their deepest, darkest and most painful moments,” said Levine. “We help parents whose children have been murdered or committed suicide or died in a tragic accident. We comfort children who have experienced and witnessed horrific violence and we hold group debriefings with family, friends and community members devastated by homicide.
“…Not only do we help individuals and families in the immediate aftermath of crime and tragedy but we help people rebuild their lives. We help people in very practical ways like helping with funeral arrangements. We advocate for leniency with employers, we contact embassies, we arrange for visitors’ visas, we locate and arrange ongoing counselling services and we help find child, attendant and home care.”
Saunders thanked VST for the great work they do as the only agency in the city that provides immediate crisis trauma to victims of crime and sudden tragedy.
“It so important to have something like this in place looking after those who are in need,” he added. “This is such a worthy cause and I want to say thank-you to all the contributors for your support and for working with us.”
This year’s Chief’s gala takes place on November 2.