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New York State Office of Victim Services honors two long-time victim advocates with Lifetime Achievement Awards

December 1, 2017 - 1:30pm

Two agency employees also recognized for more than 70 years of combined state service

 

The New York State Office of Victim Services recently recognized two women with its Lifetime Achievement Award: Susan Xenarios, who founded the first hospital-based program to serve sexual assault victims in New York City, and Kim Spoonhower, a long-time agency employee who joined the state after working as a victim advocate in Broome County. The award, first presented in 2015, recognizes outstanding work and service on behalf of crime victims across New York State.

“Susan and Kim are tireless advocates who have selflessly dedicated their lives toward helping countless crime victims on the path to becoming survivors,” said Elizabeth Cronin, director of the Office of Victim Services. “Their work has had a positive and often transformative impact on lives of countless crime victims throughout the state. This award is a small token of gratitude for all they have done to help people in their time of need.”

Xenarios and Spoonhower received the awards last month during the Office of Victim Services’ biennial professional development conference. More than 400 victim advocates and service providers from across New York State attended the three-day training in Albany. The conference featured 35 workshops and presentations geared toward helping professionals better connect with crime victims from traditionally underserved populations, including the elderly, members of the LGBT community, immigrants and male victims of sexual assault.

Xenarios founded the Crime Victims Treatment Center in 1977 at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in response to a rape that occurred in broad daylight on the Columbia University campus. Forty years later, the agency offers crisis intervention, individual and group trauma-focused therapy, legal advocacy, complementary therapy and psychiatric consultation, all at no cost and with the goal of helping survivors heal. A sexual assault survivor, Ms. Xenarios served as the agency’s executive director until her retirement earlier this year. For more than two decades, she served as either chair or co-chair of the Downstate Coalition for Crime Victims and also was a founding member of the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault. Earlier this year, she received the Alliance’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award.

Spoonhower spent her entire professional career advocating and assisting crime victims before retiring from the Office of Victim Services this year. Before coming to the agency’s precursor – the New York State Crime Victims Board in 1996 – she worked at the Crime Victims Assistance Center in Broome County. During her time with state, she played an integral part in the agency’s response to two devastating events: the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the April 2009 mass shooting that claimed 13 lives at the American Civic Association in Binghamton.

Cronin also presented Noreen Fyvie and Karen Senez with the agency’s first-ever Dedicated Service Award. Fyvie, who was the agency’s director of compensation before retiring earlier this year, spent nearly 40 years with the agency, starting her career as a stenographer in 1978 when she was still in high school. Senez, director of the Albany Investigations Unit, has worked for the Office of Victim Services for more than three decades.

Senez and Spoonhower live in Albany County, while Fyvie resides in Schenectady County.  Xenarios lives in New York City.

The Office of Victim Services (www.ovs.ny.gov) has a three-tiered mission to provide compensation to innocent victims of crime, to fund a network of community-based programs that provide direct services to crime victims and to advocate the rights of all innocent victims of crime.

The agency provides a safety net for individuals and/or their family members who have been victimized through no fault of their own and have no other means of assistance. It is a payer of last resort: all other sources of assistance, such as medical insurance and workers’ compensation, must be exhausted before the agency can assist.

Eligible individuals and family members can be compensated for medical and counseling expenses, funeral and burial expenses, and lost wages and support, among other assistance. New York is the only state in the nation that has no cap on counseling or medical expenses, which means crime victims and family members can receive help as along as it is necessary. Last year, the agency provided $22 million to assist crime victims and their families, representing claims paid for the first time in 2016 and those from prior years.

Funding for crime victims’ compensation and the cost of the agency’s day-to-day operations comes entirely from the fines, mandatory surcharges and crime victim assistance fees that certain offenders must pay following conviction in New York State or federal courts. Those fines and fees also fund nearly all the grants provided to 223 victim assistance programs, which serve approximately 325,000 men, women and children annually.

For more information about services offered by OVS, including eligibility guidelines and a list of victim assistance programs that provide direct help to crime victims across all 62 counties in New York, visit the agency’s website or call 1-800-247-8035