By Jen Kastner
MIDLAND COUNTY- Last month alone, there were 153 victims of crime in Midland County. For all those victims, there were only 26 crisis intervention volunteers available to help them. That's about half as many as the county needs.
Teresa Washburn is the Assistant Coordinator at the Midland County Crisis Intervention Unit (CIU). 13 years ago, Washburn became the victim of a horrible crime. It was a cool winter morning in Midland when she stepped out onto her front porch after noticing someone had left a package there for her.
She says, "I thought, 'Wow, that's kind of weird,' but I went and opened it and it blew up in my face."
A nail bomb exploded in her hands.
"I had a stroke because there were two nails in my artery. I lost part of my hand and my eye and I've had lots of surgeries. I had 22 surgeries to get me back together," she added.
The story made headlines for days. Six months later, she still couldn't even talk. But now, she is back on her feet and working at CIU as a way of giving back to the folks who helped her pull through her darkest days.
CIU Director, Gabriela Williams, says, "Crime is not something that we're planning on having happen to us, but it does happen and we want to be there when the victim needs that help."
CIU is the county's only civilian group of volunteers, led by two employees, that are on standby 24/7 to help victims at crime scenes.
"If a victim is maybe panicking or they're in a crisis-mode, then they will get in the way and they'll contaminate the scene and we need to get away and take them to a safe place and let them know their right as a victim," Williams said.
CIU is beyond grateful to its loyal group of volunteers but their numbers have been nearly slashed in half. More help is desperately needed. Resources are stretched thin. They say a lot of volunteers were lost when the economy recently picked back up and folks went off to work in the oil industry.