There wasn’t a dry eye in the house and how could there be?
Four victims of violent crime came out to speak at the Anaheim White House in Anaheim Wednesday about healing, surviving and gratitude for Crime Survivors, Inc. an Irvine based nonprofit founded in 2003 by Patricia Wenskunas, a survivor of attempted murder.
Crime Survivors is committed to making victims’ rights a top priority in the community and its annual awards luncheon was filled with a group of about 150 supporters, sponsors, board members, law enforcement, and local crime survivors with emcee Eileen Frere of ABC7 Eyewitness News and presenter Dominic Montalbano, a retired sergeant at Orange County Sheriff’s Department, recognizing “that victims have rights and we can work together to give them a voice,” said Wenskunas.
Since Crime Survivors inception, thousands of victims of violent crime have received help in the form of programs, services, support groups, advocacy, and a place to turn to recover, seek justice and have hope for healing.
The honorees were the Roosters Foundation for their contributions to Crime Survivors, and law enforcement who have gone above and beyond the call of duty for victims of crime: Justin Childers and Eric Barnard of the California Highway Patrol, Karie Davies of Irvine Police Department, Eric Rivas of Santa Ana Police Department, Pam Hardacre of Tustin Police Department, the LA County Sheriff’s Department advanced training unit who have exposed thousands to Crime Survivors programs.
The Lifetime Achievement for Victim Advocacy went to Yolanda Hernandez who despite her personal health issues has dedicated her life to compassion and wisdom for victims of crime.
“I want to thank Patricia and Crime Survivors for honoring me today at this luncheon. I am asked several times by citizens and mostly by people who are in law enforcement why I do the job that I do,” said Hardacre, a 28-year veteran of the Tustin Police Department who has served eight years in major crimes. “The people who are in law enforcement know the things we see, the people we deal with and the sometimes broken people we try to heal and put back together. It is because I truly love my job and try to give victims a voice when many times, they aren’t able to voice theirs.”
Davies said she strongly believes that “sometimes the people with the worst past, end up with the best futures.”
Wenskunas graciously thanked the survivors of crime who were courageous to speak about being victims of crime and for one woman who couldn’t speak since it was proving to be too painful and raw to talk about her experience.
“It’s really hard for me to share my story, even now I have days when I simply can’t get out of bed, or triggers such as Saran Wrap from the attempted murder on my life, but I do my part to fight and get my voice back,” said Wenskunas. She specifically thanked Childers of the California Highway Patrol for his diligence, compassion, listening patiently to victims and taking an extra second to pray with victims of a crime.
For more information, visit www.crimesurvivors.org or call 949.872.7895.
Photo: Wenskunas honors TPD’s Hardacre
Greer is a veteran Orange County journalist and owners of www.GreersOC.com.