Peekskill, NY – There were 1,038 hate crimes in the nation’s 10 largest cities in 2017 – the highest in more than a decade. The number of reported rape victims nationally nearly reached 100,000, with 6,324 cases in New York. Local statistics are equally grim, pointing out the need to further advocacy, education, and the raising of public awareness. To help former victims of crime and violence reclaim their lives, Senator Terrence Murphy recently secured a $10,000 grant to fund programs provided by Victims Assistance Services (VAS), a part of Westchester Community Opportunity Program, Inc., (WestCOP),

Senator Murphy said, “Victims Assistance Services is a leader in lessening the stigma of victimization. They provide compassionate services to crime victims and their families, giving them the tools they need to progress, and have been tireless in working to shape public policy and cultural change.”

Karel R. Amaranth, MPH, MA, Director of Victims Assistance Services/Westchester Community Opportunity Program, Inc. stated, “The staff of Victims Assistance Services and leadership of WestCOP are very grateful to Senator Murphy for his continued support of our services to victims of crime, especially in the northern areas of Westchester County. Support from Senator Murphy has provided furnishings and equipment for our new Peekskill office at One Park Plaza, training for our staff and outreach supplies to assure that the community is aware of our free comprehensive services which include assistance with New York State Office for Victims of Crime compensation, counseling, court accompaniment, information and referrals, advocacy for children and families at the Child Advocacy Center and trauma-focused therapy. Senator Murphy’s commitment to our services is helping our staff help victims of all crimes to access the expert, sensitive and comprehensive care that they deserve to heal.”

WestCOP is a multi-purpose social service company that has operated community programs combating poverty and its adverse effects in the Hudson Valley for over 50 years. VAS provides free, comprehensive and compassionate services to crime victims and their families, friends and loved ones. VAS also works to end violence through community action, public policy, culture change, and through prevention education programs in schools and in other community venues.

In addition to the Peekskill office, there are Victims Assistance Services offices in Elmsford, Yonkers, Mount Vernon, and White Plains. The organization has staff in the White Plains Court House at the Family Justice Center as well as Child Protection Services in the Department of Social Services. They provide access to a Rape Crisis Helpline (914-345-9111) twenty-four hours a day seven days a week for victims of sexual assault, harassment, stalking and trafficking as well as information and referrals for all victims.