Nonprofit Works to Restore Live of Local Violent Crime Victims

5 years 3 months 3 weeks ago Wednesday, January 31 2018 Jan 31, 2018 January 31, 2018 8:00 PM January 31, 2018 in News

ALTON – The Rio Grande Valley Empowerment Zone is working to help violent crime victims heal from traumatic experiences. Rosa Velis went to the nonprofit when she needed help the most.

She knows a thing or two about caring for others. Velis spends her days in the Valley as a daycare worker. Once it was she herself who needed a helping hand. She was the victim of domestic violence.

"When he hit me, that was something I could not tolerate anymore," said Velis. "We had previous incidents before. When I got hit, it was like an alert going off and I had to do something to make it stop."

Her ex-husband has since been deported. A friend recommended she reach out to the RGV Empowerment Zone for help overcoming the lingering effects of domestic violence. The organization was established in 2013 to help people in her shoes.

"By coincidence, a neighbor told me, that there was an agency in Alton," said Velis. "I looked for it and went to ask for help"

Valerio Cantu III works as a victim advocate at the organization. He helps victims get their life back on track.

"Our goal is to decrease revictimization by giving them the tools that they need to assist especially when they're in dire straits," said Cantu. "When they're in some kind of trouble."

The organization provides counseling, court accompaniment, relocation assistance and support groups. Their help comes at no cost.

"We try to guide them in the right direction, try to focus them, on to you know the big picture," Cantu said.

Velis was able to regain her sense of normalcy.

"They provided moral support," she said. "Basically, a shoulder to release my pain, because I did not have family here ... It was me and my son and they provided that support"

She tells CHANNEL 5 NEWS the organization could do the same for others in similar circumstances.

The organization is located at 416 South Alton Blvd in Alton. For information, you can also call their office at 956-424-3276.

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