Contributed by: Marie McDonald – Language Access and Human Trafficking Survivor Coordinator (SCCADVASA)
Happy Holidays from the South Carolina Immigrant Victim Coalition!
After over a decade of coalition building, it is so nice to reflect on the work and accomplishments of the SCIVC. I am lucky to have been a part of it for most of its existence, lucky enough to witness all the amazing progress we have made together. None of it was easy – the work we do for immigrant victims of crime is tough when facing limited resources, language barriers, extensive legal needs, discrimination, and a general lack of understanding of why this work matters.
It absolutely matters. Through strengthened partnerships, collaboration, shared expertise, and a unifying sense of compassion and humanity, the SCIVC has brought awareness, assistance, policy changes, protections and safety to the immigrant communities in our state. We have trained advocates and law enforcement to be more culturally sensitive and trauma-informed, addressed language access barriers, provided legal assistance, unified families, created policies to protect minors, brought attention to the overwhelming fear and isolation immigrants feel after suffering domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. With this knowledge, we began building our services to better suit their needs, we created better education and outreach programs, we worked with the various systems to improve outcomes, and we empowered victims to know their rights, obtain meaningful access to justice, and be treated with dignity.
2019 saw some changes in the coalition as we added the Midlands group and reduced our statewide meetings from quarterly to bi-annually. There was focus on integrating other immigrant communities, providing training to advocates, addressing the current climate within the US Immigration system, and grassroots initiatives to directly serve those in need. We ended the year on a very high note. It was an honor to recognize and celebrate the nominees and award recipient of the 2019 Patricia S. Ravenhorst Trailblazer Award! At the Statewide Winter Meeting, held at West Columbia City Hall on December 12, 2019, we heard updates and accomplishments of the Upstate, Midlands and Coastal groups, then celebrated the hard work of advocates and service providers.
Congratulations to Michael de Arrellano, Ph.D. (MUSC National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center) – 2019 Recipient of the Inaugural Trailblazer Award!
Thank you to all of our nominees for the tremendous impact you have on immigrant
communities across our state!
• Jennifer Vasquez (Safe Home Rape Crisis Coalition)
• Martha Gomez (MUSC National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center)
• Mount Moriah Baptist Church
• Nina Cano Richards (Cano Law Office)
• Olivia Jones (Olivia Jones, LLC)
• Shannon Nix (Sexual Assault & Violence Intervention and Prevention – USC)
• Tammy Besherse (Olgetree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.)
• Tiera Moore (Laurens County Safe Home)
• Vianca Anderson (Cumbee Center to Assist Abused Persons)
• Yamile Diaz (Safe Home Rape Crisis Coalition)
The accomplishments of our network reach far and we have so much to be proud of. Yet, we still know there is a lot of work to do. My hope is that you all enjoy a well-deserved break and come back rested and ready to continue doing the amazing work that will bring the SCIVC more progress and success into the new decade.
Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season, and all the best in 2020!