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Inaugural Hope Gala to support local victims of crime

VENTURA, Calif. — Rachael Watkins has dedicated the last two decades of her career to helping victims of crime find a path forward.

“Being able to watch someone at their weakest moment come back and remember who they are and that that crime does not define them or their family is really an honor,” said Watkins, who is the Victim Services Manger at the Ventura County Family Justice Center.

Her dedication to her passion will continue after hours at Friday night’s Hope Gala.

The event, which is being hosted by the Ventura County Family Justice Center Foundation, will raise money for resources that benefit survivors.

“Being able to have the ability to go to the Foundation and ask for something specific for someone, such as a sexual assault victim that doesn't want to go home and sleep on the same mattress that they were abused on and where the violence took place—how is that person now going to get a new mattress? —The foundation is able to come in and help us with items like that,” said Watkins.

It will also raise money for Camp Hope, a week filled adventure for kids who have been the victims of abuse.

“An upwards of 50 to 60 youth, ages seven to 17, who have experienced violence, are given mentoring, counseling, support and a combination of both physical exertion as well as therapeutic support,” said Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko.

Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko says programs like Camp Hope help break the cycle of intergenerational violence.

“Camp Hope will help reduce recidivism. Why? Because these individuals will understand that there are pathways to hope, pathways to promise. We understand that domestic violence is oftentimes intergenerational. So by giving them therapy and counseling, we're trying to break that cycle and prevent crime," said Nasarenko.

Since its opening, over 8,000 adults and children have received help from the Justice Center.

Efforts are currently underway to open a second Justice Center in Oxnard to increase accessibility for those in need.

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Mina Wahab

Arab-American producer & reporter with a mission to dig deep in interviews, share authentically, shed light on the issues that matter, and provoke deep thought.


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