Cst. Ben Witmer, right, presents Leanne Walton with a certificate of appreciation for her 25 years of service to Bashaw Victim Services.
(Photo submitted)

Cst. Ben Witmer, right, presents Leanne Walton with a certificate of appreciation for her 25 years of service to Bashaw Victim Services. (Photo submitted)

Bashaw Victim Services advocate retires after 25 years’ service

Bashaw Victim Services recently recognized advocate Leanne Walton who has retired after 25 years of service.

Walton is a woman with great empathy and strength. The program has had the pleasure of having her as a part of the team for 25 years.

“It feels so good to help people, give them guidance, and promote independence so they can live a great life,” said Walton when asked what inspired her 25 years of service.

Walton was a teacher for a number of years, so she has reached many people throughout her life.

Throughout the years Walton has seen, felt and experienced many different things being in Victim Services. She shared an experience she had which stuck with her to this day.

It was during the devastating Pine Lake Tornado. Walton was called and ready to provide assistance.

She went down to the Red Deer Hospital and directed people to where their loved ones were. The next day she would go along with victims to look at the destruction and devastation of their homes and belongings.

As they walked, they looked for little treasures or precious items that made it through the tornado. They would talk and reminisce about what the victims’ houses used to look like, and the memories that filled those hallways and rooms for years.

She was there so they didn’t have to be alone, and they were able to share these beautiful memories with someone willing to listen and appreciate them.

From the 3 a.m. calls, to the follow ups, Walton always brought useful information and compassion with her. She lent an ear, a safe space, and her heart to these victims. She would go out of her way to give as much support as she could.

To someone going into the same field of work, she gives the advice, “Firsts affect you. Be prepared.”

Walton shared that a very important part of working with victims is honesty and hope. It’s essential to be honest with the victims about the grief-stricken realities that come into play regarding their situation, but along with honesty comes hope.

Victims need to know there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and that there is support for them to reach that light.

“Don’t be afraid to get help; we all need it. We are there for others, and others are there for us. It works two ways. If you want to help people, go for it,” said Walton.

Robert Ingersole said, “We rise by lifting others.” Walton fully represents this quote.

To this day, Walton shows people a light so they can navigate their own way. Her smile is contagious, as is her passion to help others.

Victim Services is a service which provides assistance for victims of crime, tragedy, and suffering.

They work under the guidance and direction of the police, providing support, information, and referral services to help you and your loved ones cope. The services are free and confidential.

Taegen Domstad is the program manager for Bashaw Victim Services