“Victim Services Year-in-Review” Robin Stimson, LMSW
As 2021 comes to a close, MADD Mid-Atlantic Victim Services is proud of and grateful for the tremendous work of our staff, volunteers and community partners that made this year such a success. We are ending the year on such a high-note which includes several HUGELY successful local walks; prevention efforts like Saturation Saturday; our first-time statewide Law Enforcement Recognition event in Maryland; multiple ‘Tie One On For Safety’ campaigns in Charles and Frederick Counties, Richmond, VA and throughout Delaware; and meetings with important stakeholders all over the region. But we thought it was vital to take a moment to re-visit the incredible achievements of our Victim Services team and program. After all, it’s important to understand where you’ve been, in order to prepare for where you want to go.
In January 2021, we announced our restructure in which we changed from the individual state model to the MADD Mid-Atlantic Region (states that include Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Washington, DC). We were fortunate that MADD Maryland and MADD Virginia had strong, established programs and staff in place. Ever since the merger, we’ve enthusiastically collaborated on events, prevention programs and other mission minded work. Moreover, our Victim Services Team grew by leaps and bounds! Many of you have had the pleasure of meeting and working with Alisa O’Neill, who joined MADD in February 2021 our newest Victim Services Specialist. She is a fantastic person and an integral piece of this regional puzzle. Since she started this past winter, Alisa has been essential in helping us grow our presence in Delaware and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her victim centered approach has been a welcome addition to our programs and we are so happy to have her as a teammate. So happy to welcome Alisa to MADD in 2021!
Regarding legislation, we start every January with the goals of strengthening both state and federal laws that would increase the penalties for those that choose to drive drunk and/or drugged. As we moved closer to our future of No More Victims © and make roads safer for all, there was no doubt about it: COVID-19 changed how we did business legislatively this session. We are certain our luck would have been different had we been allowed to see legislators face to face and many of us are still tasting the after-effects of the bitter pill we had to swallow when our key bill died in the Maryland state senate. In Virginia, MADD often found ourselves on defense in order to prevent protections and initiatives from being eroded and stripped away. Legislative priorities in Delaware and Washington, DC are still a bit elusive – but will be less unknown as we move forward. But all hope was not lost. On November 5, United States House of Representatives passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Included in the massive transportation bill was a measure requiring the U.S. Department of Transportation to set standards for passive, advanced impaired driving prevention technology in ALL NEW vehicles. The bill already passed the Senate, and was signed into law by President Biden on November 7. HALT was MADD’s most powerful legislative achievement in all of our 41 years. We know we would not have been successful without the calls you made, the Zooms you sat in on, and meetings with law makers in which you shared your powerful journey. MADD, along with Americans across the country, are forever indebted and thank you. The work is not done, so let’s roll up our sleeves.
In April, during National Crime Victims’ Right’s Week (NCVRW), MADD Mid-Atlantic marked the occasion with our first ever virtual candlelight vigil. The theme for the inaugural memorial were Forget-me-Nots and the event offered a solemn time to reflect and connect with one another. We remain in awe of the incredible speakers and musical contributions that shined a spotlight on your individual personal courage. Featured guests included current MADD National President, Alex Otte, MADD Maryland Advisory Board Member, Vickie Brown, Azrael Franz Personal Injury Attorney, Keith Franz, Esq., Virginia victims Kristine Villatoro and Loren Black, among others. The 2nd Annual Vigil will take place on Sunday, April 24, 2022. Stay tuned for more details.
Later in July MADD Mid-Atlantic staff, MADD leadership, several Maryland Advisory Board members/volunteers, and a few of our fantastic community partners, met in-person for a day that included exciting regional updates, long-term strategic planning, new collaborations and endless possibilities. MADD Interim CEO, Ellen Wilmott, joined us and invigorated all of us with spirited conversations about the opportunities on the road ahead.
It’s been a busy, inspiring and terrific year. In the days and weeks ahead, you will hear more about new resources, workshops, volunteer opportunities, events, Walk Like MADD and so much more. We are looking forward to what we will accomplish together in 2022.