TOPEKA — Laura Brown, from the Family Crisis Center in Great Bend, has been recognized by a statewide domestic and sexual violence advocacy organization.
The Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence announced the award last week at its 10th annual Safe Homes, Safe Street reception in Topeka. The group also recognized the late Rep. Bob Bethell from Alden.
Brown received the Juliene Maska Advocate of the Year award for her 15 years of service to survivors of domestic and sexual violence in the south-central counties the center serves. In nominating Brown for the award, the Family Crisis Center Director Laura Patzner noted how she consistently goes above and beyond what is asked of her.
“As an advocate, Laura works in communities with little or no additional resources,” Patzner wrote in her nomination of Brown. “She works tirelessly, leaving before the sun comes up to reach communities in time for court cases, law enforcement interviews, school appointments and to provide supportive services, assist with protection orders and advocate with community partners on behalf of survivors arriving home long after the sun sets.
“Laura is respected and sought out by community partners for her expertise in responding to domestic and sexual violence survivors. She has become a member of each of the communities she works in and has increased referrals over the last 15 years by 45 percent.
“As a co-worker and supervisor, she is available to answer questions, provide guidance and listen to concerns and frustrations, helping to find solutions to some of the most complex issues faced in our area.”
Brown was a leader in a time of transition at the agency, Patzner said.
“Laura has touched so many lives through her work with survivors, community partners and staff. ... There is no one I would rather have in my corner or on my team than Laura Brown.”
Bethell was named the State-Level Elected Official of the Year. His nomination noted:
“Through his works of service, Bob Bethell demonstrated a strong and deep care for people, particularly the vulnerable citizens of Kansas. He was a role model for all of us – focusing on what matters and caring for those who need it most. He reached out to victims of domestic and sexual violence incarcerated at the Topeka Correctional Facility, bringing their stories to legislators. Rep. Bethel died last year on his way home from the legislative session. He is missed by all of us.”
Patzner accepted the award on his behalf.
The awards were present on Feb. 13. Other awards presented were: State-Level Ally of the Year, Lori Haskett, director of Injury and Disability Prevention Programs for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment; Project of the Year - Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center’s Promotora Project; Volunteer of the Year - Madeline Giesler, from the Willow Domestic Violence Center in Lawrence; and Community-Based Ally of the Year - Sister Carol Ann Petersen, Director of the Keeler Women’s Center in Kansas City.