PCAV is expanding its crisis response team and services with grant funding

PCAV holds a Community Walk.
PCAV holds a Community Walk.(25 News / Heart of Illinois ABC)
Published: Jun. 24, 2022 at 7:15 PM CDT
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PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) - Years in the making, a local nonprofit is expanding both their staff and crisis response services for violence victims with the help of grant funding.

Just a few years ago, PCAV was operating on a shoestring budget of less than $5,000 a year. Now, they are rapidly growing and working quietly to help those most impacted and traumatized by violent crime.

For many in the nonprofit organization, this work is their calling, including PCAV Board President Bobby Ford. Ford says the experiences in his own childhood with violence helped drive him into wanting to help others.

“It’s not about PCAV,” Ford said. “It’s about providing the necessary tools to help individuals to transition from a violent act to a successful life.”

Ford is a former Bradley basketball player, a current youth mentor and is Executive Director of Sharon Healthcare and mental health services in Peoria. He says their work is two-fold. First, PCAV provides immediate trauma support and physical comfort items to families at crime scenes. Second, they continue providing support afterwards, helping families with funeral arrangements, providing safe shelter, finding counseling services and more.

“Here are the services here in Peoria for you, and we walk them through that process,” Ford said

Currently, around 20 people comprise the organization’s Crisis Response Team. They show up at crime scenes, ready at a moment’s notice with water, blankets and toys for kids. Military veteran Corey Allen was one of the first people who volunteered tp sign onto that team.

“Once the tragedy happens, and everyone dissipates and the cops go home, what do those victims have to help them in this moment of need?” Allen said. “Aside from the every day stuff that we need, like water, snacks, coloring books, blankets for kids, so on and so forth. It’s the unseen things, because mental health is not just something you can put a band-aid on.”

Becky Rossman leads PCAV as its CEO. During her years in charge, Rossman helped assemble the current team and has worked to secure grant funding for the organization, despite only having two other paid staff members.

“Last year as I said, 143 people were shot [in Peoria]. We were only able to get through 33 percent.”

She says, while the organization is growing, more funding and support are still needed. The organization is currently operating with about $300,000 in grant funding, already allowing them to pay to train more volunteers.

PCAV has a relatively new presence on social media. They are just starting to share their full story publicly. They also host numerous community walks to spread awareness, and work with many local partners, including the East Bluff Community Center and OSF Strive.

“Those things are making a difference in our community,” Ford said. “We just need more. We’re just trying to identify all those resources to address the trauma in our community.”

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