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In photo left to right: Barb Purbaugh, Barbara Reing, Jason Hunter, Erika Brosig
(seated) Tracey Cook


Individual Direct Service Award

 
Nominator: Erika B. Brosig, Clinical Supervisor, Victim Services, Inc
Award Recipient: Tracey Cook, Victim Compensation Coodinator & Somerset County SART Coodinator, Victim Services, Inc.
 

Tracey has been the light that has guided countless survivors out of the darkness, a beacon of progressiveness and growth across the state, and she has been a teacher and mentor to every staff member at her agency since she started at Victim Services in 1995.

Tracey’s dedication to this work is unparalleled. She goes above and beyond every day to help survivors heal. Sometimes it’s a small gesture like collecting a box of food for a hungry client or making a phone call to a client to check in after a difficult session. Other times, Tracey has made large scale gestures that not only help survivors heal, but help to bring our community together. Several years ago, after a drastic increase in the number of homicides in our area, Tracey spearheaded an effort to create a memorial at a local park in honor of those who have lost their lives to violence. After years of working with the families of victims, Tracey knew all too well that going to a gravesite can be too painful for many people as they often serve as haunting reminders of the violence that took that person’s life. Tracey saw a need for something different and in true Tracey style, she made it happen! The memorial has benches and a plaque honoring victims, as well as several trees that were planted in honor of those lost lives. She created a space where families can go and sit by the river, listen to the sounds of nature, and remember the beauty of their loved one in a place of peace rather than a place of sadness. In addition, she ignited the community to be part of an event every year at the memorial that brings together families and supporters to remember the victims.

Tracey’s passion for advocacy is boundless. She was at the forefront of streamlining the process for victim’s compensation at the state and local levels and she continues to help victims and their families with claims on a daily basis. In 2016 alone, she aided eligible victims in filing claims for nearly $62,000, all while maintaining a full caseload of counseling clients, participating in community partnerships, being an active member of KCIT, and being a constant source of support and encouragement for her colleagues. She spearheaded the process to rewrite Somerset County’s sexual assault protocol, to train Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners and start a program at the hospital to support them, and to create a Sexual Assault Response Team to continually improve services for victims. She was also a key part of the team who initiated the effort to start a Child Advocacy Center in Somerset County and saw it through to fruition.

Although Tracey’s accomplishments are many, the core of her commitment has, and always will be, making a difference in the lives of her clients. In fact, many of Tracey’s clients have become passionate advocates themselves! She helps them find a sense of empowerment and the courage to step out and share their story. After more than two decades of service, she is still a driving force in our agency and in our community. 


Award Presentation:

 Ms. Cook was presented the award on May 9th, during the 14th Pathways for Victim Services Conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania.    

On behalf of victims of crime and the victim services field, we thank you, Ms. Cook, for your innovation, collaboration, and unfailing commitment to victims of crime.