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Twenty Tips For Community Outreach

The following twenty tips are designed to highlight this year's theme—"Victims' Rights: Reach for the Stars"-and can also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the victim impact statement. Many of the concepts presented here have been successfully sponsored in past years by state and local victim service organizations and coalitions.

Each of these ideas should be tailored to fit the specific needs of the sponsoring agency, coordinating committee, or community. The ultimate key to success is to involve as many different individuals and organizations—from the criminal and juvenile justice systems, victim services, and the community—in planning and implementing your 2001 National Crime Victims' Rights Week activities.

1. Create a large, wall-size visual of "the universe of the victim" with the heading "2000 National Crime Victims' Rights Week: Reach for the Stars." On the sun, print "Reach for the Stars: Victims' Rights and Services for ALL Victims." Include depictions of planets that are entitled "crime prevention" through "law enforcement," "prosecution," "courts," "probation," "parole," "corrections," and "community volunteers." Then fill the "universe" with silver stars that feature the names of all your jurisdiction's system- and community-based victim service programs. Display this visual "universe" in a prominent place, such as a courthouse, police department, or city hall.

2. Contact your county probation department to arrange for juvenile and adult probationers to cut out large stars out of cardboard or poster board and cover them with aluminum foil, and glue a plain index card on both sides that says "2001: Celebrating 25 Years of Victims' Voices." The stars can then be provided to crime victims to write their thoughts and feelings about their experiences, or provide a written memorial to a loved one. Then, display the stars on a wall, or hang them on a tree as a backdrop for 2000 NCVRW commemorative events.

3. Sponsor a poster and essay contest for elementary and middle school students, and challenge participants to "reach for the stars of safety in our homes, schools, and communities." Create a panel of judges consisting of victims, criminal and juvenile justice professionals,elected officials and civic leaders, and victim advocates. Display the artwork and essays at 2001 NCVRW commemorative events; seek donations of children's books and toys as prizes, in addition to giving certificates to all participants.

4. Sponsor a contest for your staff and volunteers to come up with the best, most creative desk decorations and design that incorporate the "Victims' Rights: Reach for the Stars" theme of 2001 NCVRW. Provide a box of star-related supplies (that can be purchased at reasonable prices at most floral/craft and "dollar stores"). Then seek permission to transfer the desk design/decorations to desks or counters at highly visible locations, such as the front counter of police or sheriffs departments or the reception areas of courts or probation agencies, for the duration of NCVRW.

5. April 2001 is also National Volunteer Recognition Month. Honor your program's volunteers by producing a banner with the heading, "Everybody is a Star at [name of agency]—Thanks to Our Volunteers in Victim Services." Take photos of your volunteers and display each on a star on the banner.

6. Think of creative ways to involve juvenile offenders in restorative community service initiatives to support 2000 NCVRW. For example, in Denver in 1999, juvenile offenders provided community service hours to put up NCVRW public awareness posters across the city and, at the same time, fulfilled their accountability agreements and learned the importance of publicizing the rights and needs of crime victims. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, youthful offenders prepared beautiful "dream catchers" that were given to homicide family survivors at the annual candlelight vigil, in keeping with the 1999 theme "Dare to Dream"; this creative approach can be utilized with this year's theme, "Victims' Rights: Reach for the Stars," as well.

7. Engage community service projects that publicize NCVRW by arranging for probationers to cut 8-inch swatches of blue and silver ribbons. Make copies of the "ribbon card" included in the camera-ready artwork in this Resource Guide, so the double ribbons can be pinned to the card (using two-inch stickpins that can be purchased at most floral/crafts stores). Then, widely distribute the ribbons prior to and during NCVRW, engaging local businesses and public venues to hang the theme poster (also included in this Guide) and place a basket of ribbons in a prominent display area.

8. Challenge allied justice professionals to engage their staff in all your observances of NCVRW, and to document and notate their participation. For example, in 1999 the Georgia Department of Corrections submitted a summary of over 30 activities in which probation officers had participated during NCVRW, including proclamation ceremonies, public information fairs, candlelight vigils and walk-a-thons, and distributing press releases and public service announcements publicizing NCVRW from a community corrections angle.

9. Encourage allied justice professionals to create their own NCVRW "mini-Resource Guides" that are specific to their staff, utilizing the materials included in this Resource Guide. For example, the Directors of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections and the California Youth Authority send out selected resource materials-including the theme posters, statistical overviews, media materials, and toll-free telephone numbers for information and referrals-to agency work sites, with a cover memorandum that includes suggestions on how to utilize them for NCVRW commemorative activities, as well as suggestions for how to utilize these resources throughout the year.

10. Seek opportunities for training and cross-training, involving allied professionals and community members. For example, in 1999 the state of Texas provided victim compensation training for adult protective services professionals and child protective services, and the Department of Corrections rolled out its posters for its new trauma response team for workplace violence and staff victimization.

11. Consider creative ways to engage and involve allied justice professionals and community members in your NCVRW activities. In 1999, the South Carolina Department of Corrections co-sponsored the statewide victim assistance conference and provided two-way radios for conference organizers, flower arrangements for banquet tables, and potted plants from its Horticulture Program that were auctioned at the fundraiser.

12. Consider presenting "niche" workshops on victimization topics that offer new ideas and perspectives to audiences that are not always considered "traditional" victim assistance venues. For example, the Executive Director of Aid for Victims of Crime in St. Louis, Missouri-one of the nation's three oldest victim assistance organizations—conducted a session for small businesses and security companies concerned about crime entitled "Humpty Dumpty 101: Putting the Pieces Back Together." The session focused on the unexpected roles that business managers have—beyond their policy requirements and liability issues—to provide a leadership role when crime and violence strike in the workplace.

13. Utilize the camera-ready artwork provided in this Resource Guide to create a "calendar of events" for your community, jurisdiction, or state. In 1999, Washington County, Oregon published an attractive one-page flyer that included:

  • Dates of special events.
  • Title of the event.
  • Brief description of the activity.
  • Location.
  • Key presenters.
  • Notation that all events are "free and open to the public."

    On the reverse side, Washington County printed event locations and "contacts for more information."

14. Ask criminal and juvenile justice and correctional agencies to sponsor a "moment of silence" to pay tribute to victims of crime and those who serve them. This idea was submitted from Sacramento, California which, in 1999, sponsored this tribute and, at the same time, presented a check for almost $4000 raised in a silent auction to the Sacramento County Law Enforcement Chaplaincy Group that provides "first response" to victims of crime.

15. Ask a local printer to reproduce copies of the bookmark artwork included in this Guide (make sure you personalize the original first with contact information for your agency). Distribute stacks of bookmarks to libraries, bookstores, universities, and schools in your community by Friday, April 20.

16. In 1999, the Connecticut Office of Victims Services utilized the camera-ready artwork in the Resource Guide to print attractive posters that publicized its programs and services, and included a "tear off pad" with a listing of its services and its toll-free telephone numbers. This creative approach offers a permanent poster that publicizes victims' rights and services, along with a simple method for crime victims and concerned citizens to take a handy reference sheet with vital information for victim assistance.

17. In 1999, the Multnomah County (Oregon) Department of Community Justice and its Victim Services Program sponsored a series of open houses. The Department advertised this special event in local newspapers, and sent out invitations to crime victims and service providers in its database.

18. Lapel buttons commemorating NCVRW in Ohio were designed and produced by inmates of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. In addition, the Department published a book of poetry written by victims and survivors, as well as a calendar that depicts the Department's vision and programs for restorative justice that addresses the interests and needs of crime victims, offenders, and the community. Both of these creative ideas lend a visual voice to victims and communities hurt by crime, and offer offenders the opportunity to perform community service that helps crime victims and those who serve them.

19. Utilize the camera-ready artwork in this Resource Guide to create bulletin boards, bumper stickers, bookmarks, grocery bags, and other visual depictions of how victims and those who serve them "reach for the stars" of safety and justice. Ask local printers or correctional work programs to donate printing services.

20. Solicit a meeting with your local newspaper's editorial board, focusing on how victims' rights and services have made your community a safer and better place to live. Ask victims who have had a positive influence on public policy or community safety to accompany you. Provide editorial board members with this year's theme, along with supportive resources from this year's Resource Guide, and encourage them to write an editorial about the importance of victims' rights and services, and the contributions they have made to your community.


National Crime Victims' Rights Week: Reach for the Stars
April 22-28, 2001
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