By Agueda Morgan, CCASA Director of Programs
In the past few weeks, I was able to participate in two different meetings that other state coalitions also attended: the National Sexual Assault Conference and a training held by the National Sexual Assault Resource Sharing Project. The meetings provided me with lots of new and creative ideas that I plan to share with CCASA member programs.
As I reflect and look back on what I learned from those meetings and interactions, I cannot get over CCASA’s size as an organization. As I interacted with other coalitions, I quickly learned that CCASA may be the smallest stand-alone state sexual assault coalition in the nation. With that said, I also learned that the size of the organization doesn’t matter when passion, dedication, and a strong collaboration are the engine and heart of it. The work that has been done in the past few years by the former and current staff, volunteers, and all CCASA members and supporters is impressive in comparison to other states.
Like other coalitions around the country, CCASA has been able to provide a variety of services state wide. Among those I would like to mention the yearly Advocacy in Action Conference, the SART institute, as well as the College Campus meeting. CCASA has also put together printed materials like: “Toward healing & Justice: A handbook for Survivors of Sexual Violence,” “Understanding Unwanted Sexual Experiences,” “Safety, Justice, & healing for Colorado Communities,” and “Your Reporting Options For Victims Of Unwanted Sexual Experiences,” among others. CCASA also has developed the “Survivors Stories” video as well as the recent Digital Story Telling project.
CCASA also participates on and supports a variety of Committees and Task Forces. To mention a few, CCASA has been an active participant on the Sex Offender Management Board, SANE Advisory Board, and Human Trafficking Council, among others. In the Policy arena, CCASA has worked on and supported a variety of bills. Among them are: Senate Bill 15-128, which clarifies Colorado’s medical mandated reporting statutes and provides victims with an anonymous reporting option for sexual assault evidence collection, and SB-15-020 Education to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse & Assault (Erin’s law). CCASA has also participated in the creation of the Sexual Assault Victim Emergency (SAVE) Payment Program, and revising civil parental rights statutes to ensure there is a path for protection for victims who have a child as a result of rape, among other policies.
So, after realizing all of the different accomplishments that CCASA has made over the past couple of years, I came to the conclusion that the size of the organization does not matter. Even though CCASA only has a staff of four, they work hard to provide the best support and technical assistance that they can.
Like many organizations, CCASA has recently gone through many changes. At this point the CCASA staff is working on reaching out to all the current members to gather information about their needs, interests, and struggles; that information will help guide the future work and strategic goals for CCASA.
One of CCASA’s core values is to educate our communities on the detrimental effects of sexual assault. Another crucial value is to create a culture of collaboration with diverse communities, individuals, agencies, and stakeholders across Colorado. We believe that our mission is best accomplished through a process that prioritizes community input and participation.
I would like to leave you all with the following thoughts: CCASA is a staff of four and it may be the smallest state sexual assault coalition in the nation, but that has not stopped CCASA from working hard to bring awareness, support, accountability, and justice for survivors of sexual assault in Colorado.