Department of Justice Recognizes Pennsylvania Victim Advocate with National Crime Victim Service Award
WASHINGTON – The Office for Victims of Crime, a component of the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs, presented Michelle L. Shae, Director of the YWCA Hanover Safe Home Program, with the National Crime Victim Service Award.
This award category honors extraordinary individuals and programs that provide services to victims of crime. It also recognizes programs and individuals whose work exemplifies the long-term commitment that characterizes many victim service providers, some of whom are also victims of crime.
“In her remarkable three decades of service, Michelle Shae has provided critical aid to crime victims in Maryland and Pennsylvania, delivering vital support to underserved victims and helping them to avoid further trauma,” said Amy L. Solomon, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of OJP. “She is a proven leader and innovator who has reached outside the box to help victims and their families, making herself a model of compassion in the communities she serves.”
Ms. Shae has been working with victims for 30 years. As Director of the Victim Witness Assistance Unit in Carroll County, Maryland, she helped provide emotional support therapy pets to help children manage the overwhelming stress of testifying in court. She also formed a partnership with the Bikers Against Child Abuse volunteers, who help restore a sense of safety to child victims and provide support by accompanying them to court proceedings and trial preparation. She is now Director of the YWCA Hanover Safe Home Program, which has grown from three employees serving 694 victims a year and an annual operating budget of roughly $300,000, to 13 employees helping approximately 1,500 victims and an annual operating budget of more than $1 million in 2020.
Ms. Shae created a protection abuse office within a local courthouse to deliver trauma-informed services to domestic violence victims and help them follow through with protective orders. Most recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, she handled in-person services, court accompaniments and hotline calls.
“In 30 years of advocacy, Ms. Shae has never wavered in her commitment to crime victims,” said Kristina Rose, Director of OVC. “The sizeable impact she has had on her communities, and the immeasurable difference she has made in the lives of those she has served, have earned her the highest respect of her colleagues and the deepest gratitude of all of us in the victims field.”
Every April, OVC leads communities across the country in observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. President Ronald W. Reagan proclaimed the first Victims’ Rights Week in 1981, calling for greater sensitivity to the rights and needs of victims. This year’s observance is taking place April 24-30, and features the theme, “Rights, Access, Equity, for All Victims.”
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.