In 1983, the Young Lawyer's Section of the Dauphin County Bar Association opted to develop a community project. These volunteers formed a steering committee to research the formation of a Victim/Witness Assistance Program by determining the needs and gaps that existed within the community.
In 1984, Martha Emerich, herself a victim of a DUI, was recruited as the coordinator of the project until the hiring of an Executive Director. Seed money was acquired through several local foundations and donors to provide for start up costs. During this year, the incorporated agency officially opened its doors with only a phone line and a filing cabinet at the Dauphin County Bar Association. Later in 1984, VWAP received 501c (3) tax-exempt status and began serving crime victims. In 1985, VWAP received a grant from the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency through Act 96 - the Bill of Rights for Crime Victims. In April of the same year, the first paid position was created - a part-time Executive Director - and the program relocated to the Dauphin County Courthouse. During the next few years, VWAP operated with a small paid staff, assisted by volunteers and interns from local colleges. Gradually, VWAP added additional part-time positions that developed into full-time staff. As Pennsylvania allotted more victim service funding, VWAP expanded staff and services based upon victim's needs. Today, VWAP serves over 8,000 victims and witnesses annually and employs 14 full time dedicated and caring staff.
What Our Clients Are Saying
"I’m thankful that you guys do this. Sometimes we do need that person to talk to… I didn’t have that outlet, and if you guys give people that outlet and someone to talk to, it just makes a difference. I appreciate everything you’ve done. I’m grateful and I’m thankful. You guys do an awesome job. Keep doing what you’re doing, because we families need this, we really do."
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