Psychologists and counselors across the state were beginning to note; primarily, that before 1970, there was virtually no help for battered women and their children in the Pittsburgh community or in Pennsylvania.
Legal Advocate Volunteer, Craig Douglass, pondered the same situation. His outstanding history with Crisis Center North (CCN) for the past 1 ½ years, has been through his enthusiastic work….quality of time overshadows quality of time. Increased legal services, increased education and ultimately, the tool of empowerment, for victims of domestic violence in the communities have definitely made a positive impact.
Crisis Center North’s mission is to serve victims of domestic and relationship violence and to eliminate the community held beliefs and behaviors, which perpetuate it.
Craig is an extraordinary young man with an extraordinary mission. Without expectation of reward or recognition, his solution to further benefit the immediate, and lead to the permanent, needs of victimized individuals was to initiate the opportunity for personal assistance and Night Court on Friday evenings.
When contacted for the Spring 2003 Training Class, Craig was required to complete the Volunteer Survey and Data Forms. Craig mailed those forms back and more. Attached were his thoughts and feelings, down in black and white, about the crime of domestic violence, the vital need for empowerment and the vision of connecting the isolated crime victims with the appropriate legal referrals. Craig focuses and believes that all human beings are created equal and deserve to be treated as equals without regard to their race, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic class.
A nervous victim stands alone in the hallway…who can help with what’s going on in her life? Who would believe the terrorism she and her children have faced…in their own home?
This is the situation volunteer Craig Douglass witnessed when observing an Emergency PFA procedure at Allegheny County Night Court.
CCN has always required “on-the-job” training for new volunteers at the New Family Court Facility to witness the PFA (Protection From Abuse) process; but the procedure at Night Court was not required. Night Court allows victims an avenue to obtain and Emergency PFA, offering a small sense of security from their abusers. Obtaining their Preliminary and Final PFA’s at the Family Court in the ensuing days, assure a longer-term solution and safety period.
Armed with this protection and knowledge…tools received from the Courts and CCN, victims and their families can feel safe for possibly the first time in a long time.
The Judges at the Night Court are also aware of Craig’s initiative and are tremendously impressed with his determination to supply a vitally needed service that was never offered in the past. As of now, Craig, representing CCN, is the only Legal Advocate volunteer making this innovative commitment to these crime victims. In the past seven months, 56 victims have received overdue personalized advocacy.
Besides holding down a full-time job, each month Craig typically volunteers 1-20 hours a month at Night Court. Those hours added to his volunteer Hotline Hours total approximately 50 hours a month.