Heartfelt Help – Heart to Heart

Karen Coney Coplinby Karen Coney Coplin

For survivors of some of the most unimaginable crimes and other traumas, there is a place to turn for much needed support, whether in the recovery or the judicial process.

Project HELP is a rape and crisis center which has assisted victims of sexual assault, sudden loss including through suicide and violent crimes, and human trafficking in Naples and Collier County. Next year, Project HELP will mark its 30th year of service.
In any given year, Project HELP is aiding nearly 5000 clients with victim advocacy, forensic examination, and guidance with law enforcement, the court and other systems.

Why is Project HELP a crucial part of our community? Eileen Connolly-Keesler, President & CEO, Community Foundation of Collier County states: “More attention is being paid today to the issues of sexual assault and human trafficking, which are violent crimes perpetrated against the most vulnerable among us.

When we have children as young as 12 being sold as sex slaves in Southwest Florida, the community needs to support prevention and treatment programs.”

Many times, a victim initiates contact with the organization on a confidential, and multi-lingual hotline which operates at all hours of the day and night: 239.262.7227. As Sheriff Kevin Rambosk notes, a call to Project HELP is: “often the first call a victim makes, so the 24/7 hotline staffed by trained counselors is a tremendous community service.”

Project Help’s mission is to provide a message of hope, healing, and empowerment to its clients. Professional counselors and client advocates work together with other dedicated staff and Board of Directors, and numerous committed community volunteers.

Project HELP strives to “always better” their services to the greater Naples community.

Although many individuals will contact Project HELP directly, clients can be referred by numerous sources including law enforcement, as well as state agencies and medical entities, in addition to other not-for-profits such as the Shelter for Abused Women and Children, to name only some who come into first contact with Project HELP clients.

Once an individual is connected with Project Help, a thorough and multi-faceted array of services begins. Counselors will work
with clients one-on-one, and group and family counseling is offered as well. Connection with community social service providers, guidance through the victims’ compensation claims process, and on-site crisis intervention are other services which might aid a Project HELP client.

F Dr. Allen Weiss, CEO & President, NCH Healthcare System, says: “Immediate,  compassionate health care is important for victims of sexual assault and human trafficking. We work closely with Project HELP to assist victims after they have a forensic exam at the Project HELP offices and may require other medical treatment.

We also refer victims to Project HELP for free counseling, court advocacy and other assistance. Together, we help victims begin
the healing journey.”

This organization is located at 3123 Terrace Avenue, near Airport Road and Davis Blvd. How can you lend a hand, ear, or other support to Project HELP? There are many ways to play a valuable role in bettering services to their clients and in so doing, our greater community. Of course, financial contributions are tax deductible.

If you wanted more “hands on” involvement, volunteers can be trained to answer the hotline; and, you could assist the  committee for or attend the upcoming 19th annual Chocolate Extravaganza on November 5, 2015, from 6 – 9 p.m., which will be held at the Design Studio by Raymond at 901 1st Ave. N. This popular event will feature light bites, wine, and an abundance of all kinds of chocolates donated by local chefs restaurants and bakers. Tickets are $95 and save the date – plan ahead – reserve your ticket. Contact Project HELP online at projecthelpnaples.org or by phone at 239.649.1404. You can find out more information by following this group at Facebook.com/ProjectHelpNaples. A silent and live auction will also be part of this special signature event. Sponsorships are available on a variety of levels and will entitle the sponsor to event tickets among other benefits.

Recently, a Project Help client shared her story of healing: “Project HELP gave me my life back and reminded me of the love, success and joy in my life. I hope that every survivor gets the chance to feel that way at some point during their journey towards strength….I can finally go out with friends and not be scared. I can finally look myself in the mirror and see love and strength. I can finally see the woman I was before I experienced this horrible tragedy.”

There are many ways to give other survivors the same chance, and that’s by helping Project HELP.

Email Karen at NaplesKCC@gmail.com to suggest a local organization for coverage in a future issue.

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