I began volunteering for S.T.A.R.S. of El Paso, TX in March 2008. This is an amazing organization!! As volunteers, we are taught about myths associated with sexual assaults and their victims or perpetrators and how to provide crisis intervention to victims. It is so unfortunate that many victims are afraid to come forward due to retaliation, shame, or general fear of the outcome of their outcry. So many victims believe they are at fault, when in actuality, we as volunteers learn that no one asks to be raped or hurt in any other way. As volunteers, we respond to the hospital when a reported sexual assault comes in at any hour of the day or night! We provide crisis intervention, and give victims information about our services, which include free counseling services to victims of sexual assault and any "secondary victims" such as friends and family of that victim and educate them about sexual assault and resources that are available to them in the community (such as the crime victims compensation act). We also stay with them at the hospital, answering any questions they may have about the procedures of the hospital or our organization. Ultimately, we are there to provide support and comfort to our victim, and offer them a chance to repair their mental health through counseling. Our volunteers undergo 40 hours of training and are asked to dedicate 1 year of volunteering to the program. The staff at S.T.A.R.S. are dedicated to reaching out to the community and also provide sensitivity training to local police, and if the victim decides to press charges, the staff will guide them through the legal system, as many victims will drop charges due to the intense pressure or stress of such an ordeal. They also educate the community about sexual assault and the services available. Since sexual assault is such a "touchy" subject, I am proud to be a volunteer and offer the support and guidance that many victims need at such a fragile time. Recently, funding for the facility has been less than in previous years, but the dedication of the volunteers and staff have kept this organization alive! I hope that we can find new ways to fund this non-profit so we may provide more for our community! We, as volunteers, are always reminded by the staff at S.T.A.R.S. that we are appreciated, be it with a card of appreciation in the mail or email. I believe this organization deserves recognition, because so much is still unknown about the human mind and how fragile and amazing it can be. We need to bring awareness to counseling and its benefits for better mental health!