HONORING HEROES FOR VICTIMS 2013 CONGRESSIONAL VICTIMS' RIGHTS CAUCUS AWARDS
(Extensions of Remarks - May 23, 2013)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E730-E731]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




 HONORING HEROES FOR VICTIMS 2013 CONGRESSIONAL VICTIMS' RIGHTS CAUCUS 
                                 AWARDS

                                 ______
                                 

                              HON. TED POE

                                of texas

                    in the house of representatives

                        Wednesday, May 22, 2013

  Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, RAINN, Merced's Community Violence 
Intervention and Prevention Task Force, Michele Steeb, Martha Herm, 
LaWanda Hawkins, and Suzanne Beaudoin are six selfless individuals and 
organizations that have changed the lives of innumerable victims around 
the country.
  Recently, the Congressional Victims' Rights Caucus honored these very 
special advocates and organizations during our annual VRC Awards 
Ceremony for going above and beyond for victims.
  Congressman Jim Costa and I serve as co-chairs of the Victims' Rights 
Caucus.
  I nominated RAINN, the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, for 
the Suzanne McDaniel Award for Public Awareness. Just like Suzanne, 
RAINN has pioneered efforts in the victims' rights community.
  RAINN was founded by my friend Scott Berkowitz. It began with the 
creation of the National Sexual Assault Hotline and has grown to assist 
and advocate for victims in a variety of innovative ways. Although 
Scott is from New Jersey, he's a lot like a Texan, and that is why I 
respect him so much.
  Scott and his organization RAINN do not stop until they reach their 
goal. And their goal is to prevent sexual assault and serve the victims 
of this awful crime. RAINN never gave up advocating for the SAFER Act 
(Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting Act), a bill to end the 
rape kit backlog. This organization knows firsthand the importance of 
testing rape kits in order to bring justice to victims and put 
perpetrators behind bars. Because of RAINN's unceasing efforts, the 
SAFER Act was signed into law as part of the Violence Against Women 
Reauthorization Act earlier this year.
  RAINN's National Sexual Assault Hotline has served more than 1.5 
million victims, and the number of victims affected by RAINN's other 
services and advocacy are countless. Groups like RAINN turn victims 
into survivors.
  Merced's Community Violence Intervention and Prevention Task Force, 
nominated by VRC co-chair Congressman Jim Costa for the Lois Haight 
Award of Excellence and Innovation, is helping to prevent crime before 
it happens.
  This organization is a collaboration of local leaders formed in 2006 
in response to gang related violence in the Merced community.
  The Task Force makes Merced a safer place by educating the community 
about violence, promoting character development, and providing 
information for families and youth.
  From Gang Awareness Workshops to Merced County's first anonymous 
``text a tip'' line, the Task Force has contributed greatly to the 
Merced community. Organizations like this Task Force are critical to 
stopping our citizens from becoming victims.
  Congressman Costa's fellow member of the California Delegation, 
Congresswoman Doris Matsui, a particularly active member of the Caucus 
recognized a leader in her community, Michele Steeb. Ms. Steeb, the CEO 
of St. John's Shelter Program for Women and Children in Sacramento 
received the Allied Professional Award for her dedication. Under Ms. 
Steeb's guidance, St. John's Shelter Program has expanded into more 
than just a safe place for women and children but a program to help 
victims thrive. The unique assistance offered like parenting classes, 
financial management classes, and on-the-job training empower the 
victims under Ms. Steeb's care to take on the world. Leaders like 
Michele Steeb transform the lives of crime victims.
  Like Michele Steeb, Martha Herm runs a domestic violence program with 
innovative, community-based components that have lead to the betterment 
of Peoria, IL for years. Ms. Herm is the Executive Director at the 
Center for the Prevention of Abuse, which she has lead for many years. 
The Center for the Prevention of Abuse is well known and highly 
regarded in Congressman Aaron Schock's district. To honor Ms. Herm's 
leadership, Congressman Schock nominated this hero to victims with the 
Ed Stout Memorial Award for Outstanding Victim Advocacy. This award 
honors the memory of Ed Stout, the Director of Aid for Victims of Crime 
of St. Louis, MO--one of the nation's three oldest victim assistance 
organizations--who died in 2005 following a 30+ year career of 
inspiring crime victims and those who serve them.
  Through Ms. Herm's efforts, the Center has grown from serving mainly 
women and children to serving all populations and working to stop 
violence before it starts. In the words of Mike McCoy, the Sheriff of 
Peoria County, ``Martha Herm is a constant voice for those in need.''
  LaWanda Hawkins is another one who helps those in need. Congresswoman 
Karen Bass nominated her for the Eva Murillo Unsung Hero Award. Ms. 
Hawkins is an inspiration to her community and mothers around the 
country.
  I won't forget the story Ms. Hawkins shared with us during the award 
ceremony. One day she was in her car, listening to a story on the radio 
about a young man that was murdered. She prayed for the young man and 
his family the whole car ride, only to find out later that it was her 
own son, Reggie. He had been tragically murdered.
  Ms. Hawkins never wanted another family to feel the pain she felt 
when she answered the phone that day notifying her that the young man 
she heard about on the radio was her son. She connected with other 
parents who experienced similar tragedies. They realized that their 
cases were not being solved, and they were left out of the criminal 
justice process. Ms. Hawkins knew that this was not right and in 1996, 
founded Justice for Murdered Children. Through her organization, she 
provides a variety of services to families of murdered children, 
including legal assistance,

[[Page E731]]

family support groups, counseling, and community outreach and 
education. Not only does she continue to help aid families, but she 
successfully advocates for legislation to protect victims' rights.
  Ms. Hawkins is a force to be reckoned with and a true champion for 
crime victims.
  Suzanne Beaudoin is another bold woman who dedicated her life to 
serving crime victims. She was nominated for the Ed Stout Memorial 
Award by one of our newest VRC Members, Congressman Mark Pocan from 
Wisconsin. Like Ed Stout, Ms. Beaudoin has seen her work directly 
benefit survivors of crime.
  Suzanne Beaudoin currently serves on the Wisconsin Crime Victims 
Council and has been the Director of the Victim Witness Unit of the 
Dane County District Attorney's Office for 20 years.
  Throughout her years working in the Victim Witness Unit, she 
established ground-breaking programs in her community and advocated for 
critical victim legislation, including Wisconsin Victim's Rights 
Constitutional Amendment and the establishment of a local children's 
advocacy center. We are thankful for Ms. Beaudoin and those like her 
who guide victims through the criminal justice system and address the 
needs of survivors.
  The work of these determined individuals never ceases to amaze me.
  America is the greatest country in the world because of people like 
these.
  And that's just the way it is.

                          ____________________