Thanks to a highly visible sign on Main Street, the local arm of the Domestic Violence Response Team (DVRT) is nearly full with volunteers, most of them from Moorestown.
A few weeks ago, Lt. Amy Parker placed an electronic sign at the corner of East Main and Chester Avenue seeking volunteers for the team. It was the second year in a row the sign had been used and, according to DVRT specialist Ann-Marie Casperite, the results have been “amazing.”
“Prior to that (sign) we only ever had one volunteer from Moorestown,” said Casperite, who assists with the DVRT through the Providence House in Delran, a resource for victims of domestic abuse and their children.
Last year, the sign yielded 27 inquiries, many of which were from Moorestonians. So far this year, 17 people have expressed interest in volunteering, 13 of them from Moorestown, she said.
Parker, who is the police liaison to the DVRT, explained that members of the team—Moorestown, Mount Laurel and Maple Shade make up the "M3" team locally—are asked to assist in a number of ways in instances of a domestic violence incident: talking to victims about safety planning, instructing them on how to obtain a restraining order, or just being a sympathetic ear.
“Empowering through information” is the team’s motto, Casperite explained. “It’s a vulnerable population … Police do the best they can, but that badge and that gun are a barrier.”
Parker concurred with Casperite’s assessment, adding that sometimes it’s difficult for police to connect the victims with all the resources and assistance they need.
“A lot of times the police are dealing with the actor,” Parker said. “Sometimes we’re just not adequately equipped to help (the victims) with that … Also, (the volunteers) are just a fresh set of eyes.”
Outside of the DVRT, Providence House is always looking for volunteers to help in a variety of ways, ranging from child care to transportation to assisting at the safe house, said community affairs coordinator Rachel Johnston.
“We need so much help,” said Johnston, who explained Providence House provides a service by shining a light on a typically “taboo” subject. “Nobody really likes to talk about it … There are so many services we offer, with no judgment. We obviously just want to help.”
Providence House—an arm of the Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton—is gearing up for its 18th annual Taste of Burlington County fundraiser. The event, to be held at on Oct. 10, will feature food provided by a host of local restaurants, as well as a 50/50 raffle and a gift basket auction.
For more information about the Taste of Burlington County or to buy a ticket, contact Johnston at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 856-824-0599, ext. 234.
To volunteer with the DVRT, contact Casperite at 856-824-0599, ext. 223, or Parker at 856-914-3040.
For more information about Providence House, visit their website.
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