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U.S. Congress Awards Helga Luest the 2011 Eva Murillo Unsung Hero Award
Witness Justice President & CEO Recognized by the Victim’s Rights Caucus for Advocacy and Education Efforts that give Hope to Crime Victims and Survivors
The U.S. Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus describes: “The honoree is a crime victim or survivor, who has experienced a personal tragedy and triumphed over adversity. This award recognizes a person who has utilized his or her experiences as a crime victim or survivor to promote public education and awareness, public policy development, and/or greater awareness about crime victims’ rights and needs. Through his or her efforts, the recipient has given hope to other crime victims and survivors.”
Luest fell victim to a random act of violence in 1993 while traveling in Florida. Two assailants attempted to beat her to death in front of Luest’s mother, leaving her with massive physical injuries and emotional struggles. In 2001, when one of the two offenders had his life sentence vacated on a technicality, Luest decided to change her life and her career to create Witness Justice so that some of the difficult aspects of the criminal justice and healing processes could be more adequately addressed for survivors. Since that time, she has worked tirelessly to advocate and educate, and to find creative solutions to issues of concern to survivors of violence and trauma. Over the years, Luest spearheaded many national advocacy efforts that have led to greater voice and choice for survivors. Her efforts have led to improvements needed in programs and systems to serve survivors of violence and trauma in the best way possible.
Congressmen Ted Poe and Jim Costa established the U.S. Congressional Victims' Rights Caucus in 2006. The mission of the Caucus is to elevate crime victim issues in Congress, in a bipartisan manner, without infringing on the rights of the accused, and represent and advocate before the Administration and within the U.S. Congress on behalf of crime victims and law enforcement officials.
Every year, the Victims’ Rights Caucus sponsors awards, in conjunction with National Crime Victims' Rights Week, to honor crime victims and those who serve them for outstanding efforts in victim advocacy, allied professional advocacy, public policy, and public awareness.
“The Witness Justice Board of Directors was proud to nominate Helga Luest for this award” stated newly elected Board Chairperson Lukas Strout of the Durham Police Department’s Victim Services Division. “Luest’
The nomination was spearheaded by Lukas Strout and Marcia Stein, two Witness Justice Board Members, who are pleased to share this announcement.
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Witness Justice is a national nonprofit organization providing advocacy and support for survivors of violence and trauma.