Webber Twp. to host Victims Rights Week forum

BALDWIN — The week of April 10 is Victims Rights Week, a national event in which different law enforcement and judicial organizations from around the U.S. reach out to the community so they better know their rights, their legal options and what resources are available to assist them in their communities.

This year, the week will be commemorated in Lake County with a forum taking place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 16, at Webber Township Hall. It will feature speakers who will give speeches and lead discussions about the purposes of Victims Rights Week and what Lake County residents can do if they are ever the victim of a crime.

"You don't have to have been a victim to attend. We want everyone to see what the sheriff's department does, what the prosecutor's office does, what I do," remarked James Holden, Lake County victims' rights advocate. "It shows the community we're here for them. When people do become victimized, they know there's someone out there to work with them and look out for them."

This year's Victims Rights Week underscores the importance of early intervention and victim services when establishing trust with victims in order to begin restoring hope and healing in their lives, he added.

"We'll have a trooper from the Michigan State Police there speaking about how law enforcement approaches these issues and Baldwin native Angela Povilaitis, who has worked in the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office and for the Attorney General's Office, will talk about the legal side of things," said Holden. "The speakers we invited are people who have helped a lot of people who have been victims of crime."

Among the other groups taking part in the forum are the Lake Osceola State Bank, True North Housing, District Health Department No. 10, the Lake County Prosecutor's Office and the Lake County Sheriff's Department.

Daycare and a seminar on bullying for children also will be available and refreshments will be provided.

Holden said everything about their cause is done in an effort to connect with the public and help them if they ever are facing a difficult time in their lives.

"Last year we had a fun run and an event in Hollister park. This year we wanted to try something different," explained Holden. "This time we are trying to engage the community in a discussion. We are still there to help the community, but we wanted to do it in a different way. Every year the approach we take is different. This year our guiding principle is 'serving victims, building trust, and restoring hope.'"