Support Within Reach is open. Yes, we are practicing social distancing. However, that doesn’t mean our work stops. Not even COVID-19 has prevented sexual violence from happening, so therefore we are working harder than ever.
Support Within Reach is a private, non-profit, community service organization serving residents and those impacted by incidents of sexual violence in Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Hubbard and Itasca counties. Our existence is made possible by the work of a volunteer board of directors, staff, volunteer advocates and contributors. Our mission is “to reduce the impact and harm of sexual violence in the communities we serve.”
SWR is the only stand-alone sexual violence resource center in the state of Minnesota. This means our focus is on victims and survivors of sexual violence, whereas other organizations in Minnesota focus on domestic violence, sexual violence and general crime victimization.
How has our work been impacted by COVID-19? Well, like most, we have had to adjust our daily work. In the beginning we started working from home, which was a true struggle, so we hear you. Right now, we have one advocate in each office, ready to answer your calls, questions, and ready to listen and support if victims and/or survivors come into the office. We still have both of our crisis lines open which are open 24/7. Below is our crisis line number and contact information. Sexual assault nurse examiners are still providing sexual assault exams in the Sanford Bemidji emergency room. Advocates can still be present at those exams and will serve you the best we can. We will still support those from a distance with whatever their needs are. We can provide in-person crisis support, but our advocates will be wearing a mask and utilizing social distancing practices. We also have a confidential virtual platform we can utilize if you wish to also practice social distancing.
Are you wanting to volunteer with Support Within Reach? We are ready to have you come on board. Our training is 100% online. Ninety percent is self-guided, and an advocate will assist you with the remainder. You will have an advocate from your geographical area walking beside you during the training. We do require a 40-hour training which is often seen as a barrier, but with everyone home this is a great time to get this completed. Hey students of BSU or Oak Hills, if you don’t have time during the school year but need to volunteer for class hours, now is your chance to get the training done.
The training will give you an in-depth look to the roots of sexual violence, how to respond to sexual violence in your community, and skills to help combat the fear and stigma around sexual violence or underserved populations. You can volunteer in many aspects, to include the board or directors, crisis line, events, and office support.
We are still accepting donations at Support Within Reach. Donations we could still use range from gift cards (Target, Walmart, Lueken’s, or any local grocery store), gas cards, hygiene products, clothing, or monetary donations. Both of our districts had to cancel their annual fundraisers, which is the largest source of monetary donations we receive. Bemidji’s fundraiser will be held virtually with TUE (Thee United Empire), with guest artist Moonie from Fargo. This will happen sometime in early June, so follow the SWR Facebook page for updates.
We are also starting to provide virtual training for community members, groups and professionals. Topics can include Sexual Violence 101, Safe/Unsafe Touch for our littles (daycare providers), Sexual Exploitation, Human Trafficking, Sexual Violence & Youth, Sexual Violence & Elderly, and more. If there is a topic you would like to learn more about, please let us know.
Support Within Reach contact information:
Phone: 218-444-9524 (Bemidji office will take messages for other offices and forward them). Crisis Line: 1-800-708-2727 (Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Hubbard counties); \u0009 1-866-747-5008 (Itasca and Aitkin counties).
Kori Nelson is Development & Volunteer Coordinator and LEAD Advocate for Support Within Reach.