Standing Together Against Rape (STAR) is the only agency within the state of Alaska solely dedicated to addressing the issues of sexual assault. One of the ways they serve is with a 24-hour statewide crisis line. While staff answers the crisis line during regular business hours, volunteers answer it in the evenings, and on weekends and holidays (6,000 hours per year). One such volunteer is Theresa Bartley. Bartley went through STAR’s 45-hour training in the fall of 1994 and, upon completion, began taking shifts on the crisis line. She is still taking regular shifts 5 ½ years later. Last year, alone, she spent nearly 300 hours on the crisis line.
Bartley is a 20-year employee of American Express One. In 1995 and again this year, she was given a unique opportunity. American Express offers its long-time employees a choice of sabbatical options as a reward for their service: either a three-month paid community-involvement sabbatical or a three-month unpaid personal leave sabbatical. Bartley became the first Alaskan in her company to opt for the community-service sabbatical option. She was recognized by the Nineteenth Alaska Legislature for her outstanding volunteer service.
During her 1995 sabbatical Bartley did community presentations, fundraising projects, and general office work. She also developed and implemented a Court Observer program by creating a manual in conjunction with courthouse personnel and organizing volunteers to be available to support victims as their cases went through the criminal justice process. This program helped give STAR a better understanding of the court system, promoted STAR’s visibility and, most importantly reinforced to victims that they did not have to go through the trauma of the legal process alone. During her current sabbatical, Bartley is serving as the assistant to the Volunteer Coordinator.
Three years ago, STAR received a grant to go to seven rural Alaska sites to train local agencies to comprehensively respond to victims of sexual assault in their communities. STAR staff served as site coordinators for the Rural Sexual Assault Training. When there were 2 empty slots, a STAR intern was offered one of those slots and Bartley the other. Bartley took the opportunity for a unique 2½-day training where she helped with logistics.
Theresa Bartley continues to be a valuable asset to STAR. She continues to take crisis line shifts (she is particularly appreciated for her willingness to take extra shifts, as well as short-notice shifts), participate in fundraising events and assist during the training of new crisis line volunteers. “The dedication and commitment she has shown to STAR and to victims of sexual assault can be a lesson to all of us who work or volunteer in service of others – it is tireless and always done with an enthusiastic smile,” remarked Debbie LaFleiche, Volunteer Coordinator, STAR.