Longtime victim’s advocate to leave county, organization seeks replacement

GREENFIELD — After more than a decade of working with victims in Hancock County, Kelly Buzan is making a change.

The county’s longtime victim advocate, employed by an Anderson-based women’s crisis center and stationed within the Greenfield Police Department, is leaving her local post to take a new position within the nonprofit organization she works for.

Alternatives Inc. is now seeking a new advocate to serve domestic violence and sexual assault victims in Hancock County, as Buzan’s position has yet to be filled.

The organization and its women’s shelter in Anderson serves Madison, Hamilton, Hancock, Henry and Tipton counties. Hancock County residents made up 4 percent of the victims served at the shelter in 2015 and 18 percent of those served by outreach advocates, like Buzan.

Victim advocates assist police with crisis response for both domestic violence and sexual assault cases.

They accompany victims to hospitals and court hearings, acting as a supportive friend and a listening ear. They help victims file protective orders and other court paperwork, and they can provide referrals to social services agencies.

Buzan worked as Alternatives’ victim advocate to Hancock County for 12 years. She’ll step up to become the residential services manager at the Alternatives shelter, joining the management staff at the facility and handling programs offered to the women and children who utilize the shelter.

The promotion is bittersweet, she said. She’s been looking to advance her career within Alternatives for some time and welcomes the opportunity the new position gives her to help others.

But moving away from Hancock County will be tough, especially after spending so many years immersing herself in the community, she said.

Greenfield resident Mimi McKee, who serves as Hancock County’s representative on the Alternatives Board of Trustees, said county leaders will miss having Buzan around to lend a hand with local victim’s rights programs.

Buzan was part of the Alternatives team that helped launch the Hancock County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and she was a fixture within local high schools, teaching students about dating safety, McKee said.

Buzan’s hard work always has been appreciated by residents, McKee said. She hopes there will be a seamless transition once the new advocate comes onboard, she said.

Buzan is the third Alternatives victim advocate and outreach coordinator to work in Hancock County, officials said. As she moves into her new position with the organization, other Alternatives staffers are covering local victims’ needs, and Buzan plans to help the new hire get adjusted to Hancock County.

That will include getting to know the officers at the Greenfield Police Department, where the victim advocate’s office in located.

Greenfield Police Chief John Jester gave Alternatives office space inside the city’s police station after grant funding for the department’s own victim advocate dried up.

Having Buzan in their halls became a great resource, Jester said: officers were able to refer victims to Alternatives for help immediately because Buzan was nearby and ready to assist.

He’s certain the new hire will fit in with the department as well as Buzan did, he said.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.