UNION COUNTY, NJ - For more than thirty years, trained volunteers have made the Union County Rape Crisis Center a beacon of hope for victims of sexual violence, by providing support and guidance through the legal, medical and emotional aftermath. County residents can join this rewarding volunteer experience by attending the next round of training sessions, starting at the end of September.

No previous experience in crisis counseling is necessary.

“All we ask of our volunteers is that they have a big heart, a strong capacity for empathy, and a desire to make a difference at a point of crisis in someone’s life,” said Freeholder Chairman Mohamed Jalloh. “If you are looking for a deeply meaningful way to serve the Union County community, I encourage you to contact Union County Rape Crisis Center and join the next training session.”

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The Union County Rape Crisis Center (UCRCC) has been a part of the Union County Department of Human Services since 1984. As advocates for victims of sexual violence, UCRCC volunteers most often provide guidance over the phone.

Volunteer advocates may also accompany a victim to the police station, hospital or courtroom. If requested by the victim, advocates provide support and guidance to family members, loved ones or friends.

“Despite some progress, women – and men – who are dealing with the aftermath of sexual violence can still encounter obstacles, outmoded ways of thinking, and lack of support within their own circle,” said Jalloh. “Our UCRCC volunteers are there to help them overcome these barriers and reclaim their lives.”

The next round of training sessions for Volunteer Advocates begin Monday, September 28 and conclude Friday, November 6. The program includes 11 classes that will be held Mondays and Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Colleen Fraser Building in the County services complex, 300 North Avenue East in Westfield.

Volunteers must be Union County residents at least 18 years of age, hold a valid driver’s license, and have their own vehicle. Prior to training, prospective volunteers are scheduled for an informal interview.

To schedule an interview, or for more information about volunteering, call the UCRCC hotline at 908-233-7273.  Additional information is available at unioncountyrapecrisiscenter.blogspot.com.

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