Ampersand Sexual Violence Resource Center, formerly known as the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center, will be conducting its first volunteer advocacy training program of 2019 in Berea on Jan. 24.

Ampersand supports survivors of the 17 counties of the Bluegrass region, and advocates are trained to answer a 24-hour hotline, meet survivors in the emergency room and make plans with the survivor on what to do after the fact. All of these tasks are part of a 40-hour training program that Ampersand requires.

Ampersand offers other resources including long term individualized therapy, group therapy programs and counseling options for any person affected by sexual violence, including family members of survivors.

Alexandria Sehon, Ampersand's Volunteer Coordinator, said that advocates are critical to the work done at Ampersand because often the advocate is the first person the survivor speaks to.

"Volunteers are a vital part of Ampersand's work," Sehon said in a press release. "We are founded by volunteers in the early 70s and every day for the past 47 years volunteers have been at the forefront supporting survivors of sexual violence in the Bluegrass."

Currently there are only three advocates in Madison County that serve within a region that includes Clark, Estill and Powell counties.

In an interview with The Register, Sehon said that for the region she has a recruitment goal of 39 total advocates and the best way to recruit those people is through other collaborative relationships within the community.

"It's all about relationships with groups and working with other people to get the word out there," Sehon said. "We have relationships with Eastern Kentucky University and Berea College, we work with churches and Habitat for Humanity, and we just tell them about what we do and try to get more volunteers."

Sehon said that those who are interested in becoming volunteers are required to complete an application process and must be twenty years of age.

To apply to be an Ampersand advocate, email asehon@ampersandky.org or visit ampersandky.org.

Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623; or follow her on Twitter @TaylorSixRR.

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