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'Amazing' victim services volunteers recognized at OPP ceremony

'It’s great to be able to help out the community and be there for people when they are completely vulnerable,' says local volunteer, adding 'it’s very important to help out'
North Simcoe Victim Serviced 5-19-22
North Simcoe Victim Services volunteers were recognized for their exceptional care and dedication during a special recognition ceremony at OPP general headquarters on Thursday. From left are volunteer Celeste Heintzman Ryter, the local organization's executive director Kim Kneeshaw, and volunteer Tracie Atkinson.

To mark Victims and Survivors of Crime Week, a special recognition ceremony took place Thursday at OPP General Headquarters to celebrate local volunteers who have provided critical support to victims and survivors of crime.

North Simcoe Victim Services Executive Director Kim Kneeshaw says honouring individual volunteers is important to show how appreciated they are by the OPP and the community.

“It’s very important for them to know that they are appreciated and the work that they do makes a difference.”

Kneeshaw says the event provided an opportunity for voices to be heard and to share information about the services that are available.

“Other victims and survivors have spoken up,” she said. “They have received assistance and it’s made a difference for them.”

The two volunteers from North Simcoe Victim Services who were honoured with awards on Thursday morning are Orillia residents Tracie Atkinson and Celeste Heintzman Ryter.

Atkinson regularly has the most shifts among any volunteers and is always willing to help, Kneeshaw explained.

“If we are short a volunteer or an extra call comes in and we need extra volunteers, Tracie is one of the people who is always available and willing to go at a moment's notice," said Kneeshaw.

While fighting back tears, Atkinson said she was beyond humbled to accept the award.

“It’s great to be able to help out the community and be there for people when they are completely vulnerable,” she said. “It’s very important to help out.”

Heintzman Ryter is "amazing,” Kneeshaw said. “She is just one of the most kind-hearted and genuine people. She truly cares for others, wants to help, and has a great spirit.”

Heintzman Ryter was almost speechless.

“I do this because I wanted to give back to the community and do something meaningful,” she said. “I’m so happy to be able to help when people are in tragic situations and at their most vulnerable because sometimes people don’t have anybody to lean on.”

Volunteers of Muskoka Victim Services, Caledon Dufferin Victim Services, Victim Services of Simcoe County, and Kawartha/Haliburton Victim Services were also recognized during the ceremony.

Here is a full list of volunteer award winners:

North Simcoe Victim Services

  • Tracie Atkinson
  • Celeste Heintzman Ryter

Muskoka Victim Services

  • Reinhard Gale
  • Michelle Whaley

Caledon Dufferin Victim Services

  • Pina Marino
  • Julie Allen

Victim Services of Simcoe County

  • Julie Brucato
  • Jeannie Wilson

Kawartha/Haliburton Victim Services

  • Whitney Patrick
  • Devon Well