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To The Editor:
Kudos and many thanks to local Warren resident Samantha Seymour for coordinating and hosting the "It Happened to Alexa Foundation" fund-raising event that took place at the Lareau Farm this past Sunday. "The purpose of the It Happened to Alexa Foundation is to help support rape survivors through the trauma of the criminal trial, in the hopes that more survivors will go through with the prosecution in order to put these perpetrators behind bars."
Established in 2003, the foundation assists rape victims' families with travel expenses during the litigation process and is the only organization of its kind in the United States. After speaking with one of the founders, Stacey Branchini, I learned that they are often most contacted via the internet -- www.ithappenedtoalexa.org -- and that they have helped victims of sexual assault from Vermont to Central America and beyond. They provide financial, emotional and advocacy assistance to victims who prosecute their attackers.
As a survivor of sexual assault in 1992 and someone who went through the criminal justice system, having the support of my family and community was key in seeking justice for all. Since that day I have served as an advocate and have seen many changes in the legal system and a growth of supportive programs such as It Happened to Alexa Foundation. Many of these programs have been created by survivors of crime, as we strive to educate others and work to provide and improve supportive services for victims.
In addition, much of the funding of these nonprofit organizations occurs through grants and often these grants are merely start-up grants. Other funding is obtained through donations from folks like yourself who are reading this letter. If you were unable to stop by and would like to donate please consider going online or send a check to It Happened to Alexa Foundation, 125 South First Street, Lewiston, NY 14092.
Susan S. Russell