Angela Evans, Community Victim Advocate at COMTREA's A Safe Place

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Angela Evans, Community Victim Advocate at COMTREA's A Safe Place

October 4, 2018 

MY JOB

I work with victims of domestic assault that occurred in Jefferson County. I am a representative stationed at the Jefferson County Sherriff’s Office (JCSO), and review all the intimate partner domestic assault reports. After reviewing report, I select cases to take on as a Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team (DVERT). I reach out to victims and share resources, support, intervention, and advocacy. Sometimes, victims just need to be heard, but I support them with safety planning, emergency shelters, referrals to other community services, assistance with filling out legal documents, and attending court hearings. Cases are reviewed in a monthly meeting which includes the Prosecuting Attorney, Prosecuting Attorney Victim’s Advocate, Probation & Parole, Private Probation, JCSO Victim Services, JCSO Detective/Lieutenant, Family & Drug Court Coordinator, ASP Manager, & myself.

IMPACT

I think it is important for victims to know they are not alone and that there is help out there. There are so many victims that “fall through the cracks” because the process can be so overwhelming and they may not know what to do or how to get help. So many will give up if they don’t have someone that believes in them, encourages them to believe in themselves, and helps them through a daunting and sometimes scary system. If I can help improve the lives of victims in our community by providing resources, support, intervention, and advocacy, then that will spread to others creating a positive chain effect! It is my hope that no victim feels unseen –that there are always options to any situation.

ABOUT ME

I am a survivor of domestic violence and would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the services I received from COMTREA and ASP. In 2004, I sought shelter at ASP to flee a domestic violence situation and my life was forever changed! That experience fueled my heart and passion to help other victims. I have been volunteering with ASP since 2006 by speaking out at various engagements and fundraisers, modeling in the former ASP fashion shows (fun, fun!), becoming an ASP Ambassador, and participating in different committees. I am currently the chair on the Friends of A Safe Place Advisory Committee and love every minute of it; all community members are welcome so contact me if interested.

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Meet Jen Heizer, Healthcare Home Nurse Care Manager

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Jen Heizer, Healthcare Home Nurse Care Manager

September 29, 2018

Meet Jen Heizer, Healthcare Home Nurse Care Manager. Heizer has worked for COMTREA for five years, and began as a Community Support Specialist.

In my role, I see behavioral health clients annually, and complete a head-to-toe health screening on them, covering all the bases of the individual both mentally and physically. I work daily on assisting individuals in accessing needed health care, behavioral health, and social services and supports. As a Nurse Care Manager, I serve clients with managing their mental illness, physical well-being, and other chronic conditions, and educate each client individually on working towards improving their general health and developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

My job is important to COMTREA and the community because I am a stepping stone for our clients. When I sit down with an individual for their health screening, I always begin with asking them to focus on their physical and medical health! My goal is to enlighten clients that taking care of your mental health is important, but not to neglect your medical and physical wellness. I encourage clients to step out of their comfort zones and visit their primary care physicians to talk about aches, pains, questions, and concerns. Prevention screenings such as yearly vision exams, dental exams and cleanings, and well-woman exams and mammograms are vital. I discuss and bring these to their attention in hope of them recognizing how important it is in achieving a comprehensive state of wellness.

I have lived in Festus all of my life! I attended Southeast Missouri State University after graduating from high school, and I have been a nurse for 11 years. I have two sons; there is never a dull moment at my house, and I know way more about Fortnite and NBA 2k18 than I care to admit! I love to cook, but require everyone stays out of my kitchen. I am one of those people that loves winter! It is the snow, ice, burning fireplace, comfy pajamas, warm fuzzy socks, soup, cookies, and hot chocolate.

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Sarah McGrath, School Liaison Counselor

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Sarah McGrath, School Liaison Counselor

September 23, 2018

Meet Sarah McGrath, School Liaison Counselor at COMTREA. I provide therapy and resources/supports to students, their families, and school staff in the Jefferson County School Districts. This year, I am servicing schools in the Northwest School District. I collaborate with school staff and provide more intensive therapies that the school counselor is not able to provide or that their job does not allow the time and intensity to provide to students. I conduct group therapy, individual therapy, collaborate with teachers and staff to support students, and connect with parents and caregivers to provide support for carry-over at home and/or other resources available to assist the student and family, overall.

The school liaison position is very important due to the amount of time we can spend with a student versus a school counselor. I was a school counselor for 11 years, and one of the drawbacks was time constraints; this did not allow for developing therapeutic relationships. As a liaison counselor, I get to build therapeutic relationships. I can dive deeper into a situation, not just teach, but practice skills with students to better themselves. I am able to have conversations with families about medical and mental health needs that unfortunately school staff are limited to discuss. School counselors really depend on the services that the liaisons provide for kids. Many times, as the school liaison, I am the only way that a child can receive some more in-depth therapeutic interventions and that is really important!

Life throws crazy, unexpected things in our path, but one thing I have learned is the power of relationships and kindness. All it takes is one friendly smile or a simple “hi” to change someone’s day, know that they matter, and have purpose in this world.”

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Katie Prendergast, Assessment Coordinator

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Katie Prendergast, Assessment Coordinator

September 9, 2018

Meet Katie Prendergast, Assessment Coordinator, a registered alcohol and drug counselor for the COMTREA adolescent CSTAR program.

My role at COMTREA includes taking calls for assessments, scheduling appointments, and doing weekly counseling groups for a caseload of clients.

I feel my job is important because we are ‘planting seeds’ with the adolescents. I am fully committed to helping each and every client and treating them as individuals. It is important to break the cycle of addiction in the family. We help adolescents identify possible reasons for their alcohol or drug use and work on building positive coping skills. We try to fill the ‘tool box’ with a variety of skills to prevent relapse.

I have been lucky over the 19 years that I have been with COMTREA to work with people that I truly enjoy. It is important to be able to rely on your coworkers after a long and sometimes stressful day.

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