Travis County

TCSO is asking for volunteers to assist victims in crisis

AUSTIN (KXAN) -- The Travis County Sheriff's Office announced that it's looking for volunteers who would like to help with the Victim Services Unit. 

Volunteers will work as victim services advocates and provide immediate assistance to people in crisis. According to the TCSO, the people in need may have experienced: 

  • Family violence
  • Sexual assaults 
  • Child/Elder abuse
  • Aggravated assaults 
  • Robberies/ Burglaries
  • Suicides
  • Fires 
  • Death notifications
  • Natural/ accidental deaths 
  • Major accidents 

Jenna Elliott decided to volunteer with the sheriff's office as victim services advocate two years ago. She was going through a divorce at the time and wanted to take on "something big" to find a new purpose.

"Somebody told me if you're depressed, you're not doing enough to impress yourself," Elliott said. "I took that and tried to find a way to impress myself." 

Anyone who signs up to be a volunteer, like Elliott did, will have to complete a training program, which is scheduled to be three days per week between March 11 and April 1. Volunteers will also be accompanied on several calls before they will be allowed to take calls independently. 

"If you've got love to give and want to help someone, this is a great way to do it," Elliott said. 

"TCSO is seeking persons of excellent moral standing with the sensitivity and self-awareness necessary to provide effective assistance to those in crisis," officials wrote in a press release Monday. "Volunteers need to be 21 or older, with a reliable, insured vehicle, a working cell phone and a schedule that allows for (4) four-hour shifts of on-call duty per month."

Terry Wilt, who began volunteering through the program four years ago, said potential advocates need to be caring, compassionate and have a desire to help others. 

"A lot of it is sometimes just sitting with somebody," Wilt said. 

"We may sit with them two or three hours," he added, "and just talking and providing information about funeral homes and other resources." 

Officials will also conduct background checks for anyone who applies, including taking fingerprints. 

If you want to volunteer, you can sign up here

The Williamson County Sheriff's Office told KXAN that it currently has about 20 victim assistance volunteers, and it would like to have more than 40.

Anyone who'd like to learn more about that effort can apply here or call 512-943-1374. 

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