Local universities participate in Victims Resource Center Rally and Walk

Maddie Davis, Co-News Editor

On Friday, local colleges partnered up with Wilkes-Barre’s Victims Resource Center to host their annual Victims Resource Rally and Walk.

Maddie Davis
Wilkes University students leading the walk from campus: (left to right) back row: Rebecca Glaude and AJ Correa; front row: Melissa Ruth, Sarah Weynard and Umou Jalloh.

Wilkes University, King’s College,  Misericordia University and Luzerne County Community College all came together in support of the services that the Victims Resource Center offers to the surrounding Wilkes-Barre community.

Part of the walk began in the Henry Student Center where Wilkes and LCCC students marched to the Public Square to meet with the other groups from King’s College. The larger group then walked to the Victims Resource Center where the rally was held.

The annual rally was opened by Jan McKay, the Executive Director of the Victims Resource Center. She told the crowd that this year’s theme was focused on honoring the past and creating hope for the future.

“When I look back over the past, what I see is the honor of serving so many courageous survivors of violence. I am honored that they trusted me and the other advocates with their story, their pain and their journey,” said McKay.

McKay then explained the second part of the theme for this year’s rally: Hope for the future.

She talked about a new law in Pennsylvania, Act 79, that requires an individual with a protection from abuse order or an individual charged with domestic violence to turn over their weapons to police within 24 hours.

McKay introduced Tammi Burke, supervisor of client services at the center, who hosted the rest of the rally. Burke immediately turned the attention to a few of their guest speakers including Joanne Savinski, to share her story to about the death of her daughter and grandson.

“[Tammi Burke] has helped me through so much. I also, through victims resource, attend a monthly homicide survivor meeting where I have met some pretty wonderful ladies and we have a certain bond because we know what it’s like,” said Savinski.

Jennifer Smith, clincal director at the Choices Methadone Clinic, talked about her experience as a professional working with people in recovery who experience violence in their lives.

“What society doesn’t realize is that people don’t wake up one day and just ‘hey I wanna be an addict’ or ‘I want to have the disease of mental health.’’ Until someone can walk a mile in the shoes of a person suffering from addiction or abuse they should not judge,” said Smith.

The rally wrapped up with two songs that Burke says have meaning to the Victims Resource Center and all those affected by violence. She then played John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ and Rascal Flatts’ ‘My Wish.’

For more information regarding the Victims Resource Center and the services they offer, visit vrcnepa.org.