The San Miguel Resource Center (SMRC) is now accepting registrations for its upcoming 40-hour victim advocacy training, which will be offered throughout the month of October at the Lone Cone Library in Norwood. This educational opportunity is free, and participants must be 18 or older. 

The three-week training will be every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 6-8 p.m., beginning on Oct. 4and concluding on Oct. 21. Childcare services are offered, and dinner will be provided. 

Representatives from SMRC said the course has both an online and in-person component, totaling to a 40-hour comprehensive program where participants can delve into learning about victim advocacy and all that it entails. Some topics that will be covered include domestic violence, sexual assault, victim advocacy, the legal system, law enforcement, child advocacy and much more. 

Local experts are invited into the trainings to present on various topics and to speak to how SMRC and other agencies collaborate to end domestic violence and sexual assault in local communities. Upon completion of the training, participants will become a certified victim advocate in the state of Colorado. A certified victim advocate may volunteer with SMRC by taking shifts on the 24-hour helpline, though volunteering is not a requirement of participating in the training. 

Representatives added being a certified victim advocate equips individuals with an invaluable skillset. It provides participants with an incredibly unique opportunity to help members of the community who need support, even if they may appear to be completely fine on the surface level. 

Intimate partner violence has always been present in the region, but the pandemic has unfortunately exacerbated the circumstances that can lead to this type of violence. Increased isolation can create an environment in which victims and aggressors can’t have the separation they need. Escaping an abuser has become much more difficult in the time of COVID, and additional stressors such as financial losses or unemployment may only worsen the situation. 

Now, more than ever, locals have the ability to potentially change somebody’s life, representatives said, as a victim advocate in the community. Sheamus Croke, a longtime Telluride local, was a student in last year’s Victim Advocacy training. 

“I can attest that this course has hugely impacted my life in such a positive way. It has not only made me a better friend and a more empathetic listener, but it has also given me the opportunity to get more involved in the community.” 

Croke is now one of SMRC’s most active helpline volunteers.

Volunteer advocates are essential to the success of SMRC. While volunteering is not required upon receiving certification, SMRC is incredibly grateful for any help offered. COVID made it challenging for SMRC to host trainings, and, therefore, the volunteer base has sharply declined. However, while the volunteer base is currently small, volunteers are the reason the 24-hour helpline is able to exist, which serves so many individuals in crisis regionally. SMRC would love to invite Norwood participants into the volunteer community.

Anyone interested in registering or who would like more information on the training, should email Robin Kondracki, the advocate coordinator, at advocates@smrcco.org or call her at 970-728-5842, extension 3#. Spots are limited.