As the candles for the domestic violence awareness vigil Tuesday evening were extinguished, so too has Glenda King’s time as director of Effingham County Victim Witness Assistance Program come to an end.
King is stepping down to spend more time caring for her ailing husband Phillip, a former county commissioners and city council member in Guyton and Rincon. Her friends and colleagues in Victim Witness gathered at the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office to show their appreciation for her service to the cause.
“Glenda has been the force that has kept Victim Witness going,” said Lucy Powell. “Victim Witness has grown. The confidence of the people in Effingham County in using Victim Witness has grown. We have seen such a vast increase in the number of people using it, and the service it has rendered has been totally outstanding.”
Gussie Nease the Victim Witness program has not had to worry about anything under King’s leadership and she has branched out in efforts to spread the word about Victim Witness.
“She’s the one who came up with the ‘Dancing With the Stars,’” Nease said. “We had to get creative in how to get funding for our clients. She’s very good at reaching out to the community and getting people involved for funding.”
Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie was chairman of Victim Witness several years ago, the ECSO continues to have a representative on its board. He also extolled King’s work at the program’s director.
“You can tell her heart’s in it,” he said. “She’s totally behind it. There are issues in her life that has caused her to step down. It’s going to be a hurt because she’s so passionate about it. It’s going to leave a vacancy.”
Victim Witness’ mission is to provide help, including referrals, advocacy and support, to victims of personal injury crimes. Sheriff McDuffie said the program has been a help to his force in trying to assuage victims of domestic violence.
“The mental anguish they’ve been put through, it helps them to talk to somebody who’s not necessarily a counselor or a psychologist, somebody to hold their hand and walk them through the court system,” he said. “A lot of these folks have never dealt with the court system. They don’t know what they’re supposed to do and not supposed to do. Just to have that one advocate who can walk them through the system, you can’t put a number on how great that is. It just helps them so much for them to have that one person who can help them.”
Powell has had to call upon the Victim Witness services in the past year and pointed out how the community’s confidence in the program has grown.
“We have seen such a vast increase in the number of people using it, and the service it has rendered has been totally outstanding,” she said. “As someone who has had to use in the past year, it is the most competent place to go when you need help, emotional support, financial support. They will take you from the start to the very end. You’ve got trained people who will be there for you.”
King called her time with Victim Witness “very rewarding” and said more people are willing to ask for help.
“I feel like we have made a difference in a lot of families’ lives,” she said. “I think we are seeing more people who are willing to come forward. I don’t know that domestic violence is not any less or any more. But people are coming forward and talk about it, develop a safety plan. At least they are willing to talk about it. And that’s the beginning.”
While Victim Witness seeks its next director, King’s friends and supporters believe finding someone to live up to her efforts may not be easy.
“She has just been invaluable,” Nease said. “We’re going to miss her tremendously. She has been a good leader. She’s been a good advocate for victims.”