Prevention Education and Outreach Award
Award Recipient: Christine Gilfillan, Director of Education and Community Outreach, Berks Women in Crisis
Nominator: Mary Kay Bernosky, Executive Director, Berks Women in Crisis
Award Presented By: Joyce Lukima, Victims' Services Advisory Committee Member
Ms. Christine Gilfillan is the Director of Education and Community Outreach for Berks Women in Crisis, a position she has held since 1999. Prior to this, Ms. Gilfillan had been a longtime volunteer for the program. Throughout her efforts with Berks Women In Crisis, Ms. Gilfillan has been working diligently to increase collaboration with other organizations in the Berks County community, especially those serving the Hispanic population, and educate the broader community to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault.
Ms. Gilfillan's frustration with an inability to foster meaningful connections with young people through school based programming compelled her to design a primary prevention program known as "Camp PeaceWorks" in 2005. The program, now in its 7th year, is a week long day camp geared towards youth ages 13 through 17. It is based on a curriculum designed by Paul Kivel and Oakland Men's Project and has been recognized as one of 12 innovative primary prevention programs by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
Through "Camp Peaceworks", participants engage in learning activities designed to help them understand the "isms" which are the roots of sexual and domestic violence. At the camp, one day is set aside to discuss each of the "isms": racism, sexism, heterosexism, adultism and classism. Yearlong meeting and projects are held to retain contact with the youth who attend camp; many of these youth return as camp facilitators or teen leaders in subsequent years. The camp remains entirely funded through private community support.
Ms. Gilfillan collaborates with other entities in the Berks County community to raise awareness about sexual assault and domestic violence. She has forged meaningful collaboration with Centro Hispano, a community based agency, whose primary mission is to empower the Hispanic Community in Berks County. The goal of the collaboration between Berks Women In Crisis and Centro Hispano is to develop a plan to engage Latina youth and adult men to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault in their community. The federal Office on Violence Against Women has provided support to this project under its highly competitive Culturally and Linguistically Specific Services Grants Program.
Ms. Gilfillan's collaborative work with Centro Hispano has also led to the creation of other efforts to work with the Hispanic community in Berks County. "Compadres" and "Allianza" are two such programs. Compadres is a group of men, not all of whom identify as Latino, who have become mentors and role models to younger men in the Latino Community. The group meets with youth and provides volunteer services to Berks Women in Crisis. Allianza is a partnership created to foster community leadership among Latina women in Berks County. From this partnership, public service announcements were created by youth about dating violence.
Ms. Gilfillan utilizes best practices and the latest research in her work, but it is her ability to creatively apply her research to the unique diversity of the Berks County community which distinguishes her as an innovator in primary prevention. On behalf of victims of crime and the victim service's field, we thank you Ms. Gilfillan for your innovation, collaboration and unfailing commitment to victims of crime.