The last few months in our newspaper columns we have talked about Support Within Reach’s programming. This month we are talking about multidisciplinary teams, which was mentioned in the last few articles. We wanted to bring you an in-depth look into the teams, what they do, and how to get more information. These teams are located in each of the counties we cover, including Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater and Hubbard.

First, our Cass County Sexual Assault Multidisciplinary Action Team (C-SMART) is led by Marcy Webber in Walker. In the past, C-SMART has met every other month with the purpose of ensuring victim centered responses by coordinating, cooperating and communicating with our partner agencies. The agencies that have been involved are Cass County Sheriff’s Office, Cass County Attorney’s Office, Cass County Health, Human and Veteran Services, Department of Corrections, Cass County Victim Services, Indian Health Services, Leech Lake Tribal Police and Leech Lake Family Violence Prevention Program.

Currently, with the help of team members, we have talked about inviting community members to the table. At this time we are still in brainstorming mode and any changes will happen next year. Our last meeting this year will be Nov. 19, via Zoom. If anyone would like more information about the team, please call (218) 547-4892.

Second, our Beltrami County Sexual Assault Multidisciplinary Action Team (B-SMART) is led by Riley Irish in Bemidji. The mission of B-SMART is “to implement and sustain compassionate, victim-centered response to sexual violence that is inclusive of all communities, and promotes victim’s definitions of healing, justice, and accountability.”

B-SMART is currently looking at having a “B-SMART” day at Bemidji State University in 2021. We are also creating a questionnaire for our past and current clients to determine how we can improve our services and organization. Current members of B-SMART include Bemidji Police Department, Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, Sanford Health, Beltrami County Attorney’s Office, Face It Together, Bemidji State University, Red Lake Public Safety, and more. If you would like information on joining the team please contact Riley at (218) 444-9524 or r.irish@supporwithinreach.org.

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Third, our Hubbard County Sexual Assault Multidisciplinary Action Team (HU-SMART) is led by Samantha Stevens in Park Rapids. The mission of HU-SMART is “to ensure a victim centered response through effective coordination, cooperation, and communication across the community and partner agencies.” Partner agencies on the team include Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office, Park Rapids Police Department, Hubbard County Attorney’s Office, St. Joseph’s Catholic Initiative, Family Safety Network, Lake County Associates, and Group Works. This team meets bi-monthly on a pre-arranged date and time. For more information, contact Samantha at (218) 732-3300 or s.stevens@supportwithinreach.org.

Finally, our next two groups are led by Gabrielle Congrave, our new Regional Navigator, previous Clearwater County advocate, and Sexually Exploited Youth coordinator in Bagley. The Headwaters Alliance Against Sex Trafficking and Exploitation’s (HAASTE) mission is “to address all forms of sexual exploitation through community awareness and education.” Partner organizations include BSU, Oak Hills, Evergreen, North Homes, Red Lake Police Department, Beltrami County CPS, and others.

Currently, HAASTE is working on plans for Trafficking Awareness month in January, which include publishing art and writing samples from victims/survivors in zine format. We have started inviting community members into the group as well as representatives from partner organizations. We are setting up a series of radio interviews to raise awareness about sexual trafficking and exploitation, and the SH4ALL (Safe Harbor for All) legislation/movement. We work together to offer trainings for organizations that may come into contact with sexually exploited youth and/or adults, and collaborate to provide creative programming for sexually exploited youth.

Gabrielle is also restarting the Clearwater County Sexual Assault Response Team (CC-SART). CC-SART’s mission is “to implement and sustain a coordinated victim-centered response toward sexual violence for entire communities that promotes compassion, healing, and justice.” Partner organizations have included Clearwater County Social Services and CPS, the Clearwater County Attorney’s office, Bagley Police Department, Clearwater County Sheriff, DOVE, and others.

Right now our focus is on starting back up again. We have discussed giving special focus to Rice Lake, specifically the area known as “the loop” to help address sexual violence, exploitation, and systemic neglect that has occurred in that area. Like HAASTE, we are seeking to involve more members of the community in our meetings.

If you would like more information on joining these groups, email g.congrave@supporwithinreach.org.

Kori Nelson is the Development and Volunteer Coordinator at Support Within Reach.