Synergy Services Honored for Work on Behalf of Child Victims
2017 National Crime Victims' Rights Week
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tom Larson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, presented the annual Crystal Kipper & Ali Kemp Memorial Award today to Synergy Services in recognition of the organization’s valued contribution to preventing and responding to the exploitation of children.
“Synergy Services is a staunch advocate and compassionate caregiver for children and families in crisis,” said Larson. “Synergy is a strong ally in our work to combat human trafficking and child exploitation. I’m pleased to recognize Synergy’s contribution as a valuable partner in responding to the needs of our most vulnerable victims.”
Today’s award ceremony was part of an annual event hosted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in conjunction with the observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. This year’s theme – “Strength. Resilience. Justice.” – reflects a vision for the future in which all victims are strengthened by the response they receive, organizations are resilient in response to challenges, and communities are able to seek collective justice and healing.
Executive Director Robin Winner received the award on behalf of Synergy Services. This is the 14th year for the award to be presented in memory of Crystal Kipper and Ali Kemp, two young women who were both fatal victims of tragic crimes. Roger Kemp, Ali Kemp’s father, and Anna Rea, Crystal Kipper’s mother, participated in today’s presentation.
Synergy Services, Inc. began in 1970 as Synergy House, the only shelter for runaway and homeless youth in western Missouri. Synergy now provides a full continuum of nationally accredited care to assist children and families with immediate respite from violence, and services which empower clients to find and choose good options for future safety and success. In addition to their work to treat the effects of violence, Synergy provides supportive services to families in crisis in an effort to prevent violence. They also focus on community education in an effort to build a safer society. Their programs include crisis hotlines, emergency shelter, transitional housing, therapeutic services, advocacy, mentoring and violence prevention programs throughout the greater Kansas City area. They provide these services regardless of ability to pay.
Synergy’s new Children’s Center in the Northland celebrated its grand opening last fall. Synergy now has more beds available to serve children from birth to 17 years old. Their hope is to no longer have to turn children away because of limited beds and resources. The Children’s Center is not a foster care agency, but an emergency placement shelter designed to provide stabilization to children in crisis (such as homelessness, domestic violence, incarceration, or unexpected hospitalization).
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
The Crystal Kipper & Ali Kemp Memorial Award is presented by the U.S. Attorney’s Office each year during the local observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week to recognize the outstanding work of an individual or organization in recognition of a valued contribution to preventing and responding to the exploitation of children.
The Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA), enacted in 2004, grants victims in federal criminal proceedings certain enforceable rights, including the right to be reasonably heard at public court proceedings and to receive full and timely restitution as provided by law. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has a dedicated Victim Assistance Unit that serves federal crime victims across the district’s 66 counties. Members of this unit notify victims of significant case events through the Department of Justice’s Victim Notification System (VNS). Such notice enables victims to participate in court proceedings and make their voices heard. Victim Assistance personnel accompany victims to court hearings and trials to ensure that victim participation in court proceedings is meaningful and to answer questions and explain the federal judicial process.
In addition to notification and court accompaniment, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Victim Assistance Unit provides essential services to victims, such as making referrals for counseling, securing temporary housing, assisting with access to victim compensation funds, and accompanying victims to court to provide support and guidance during the proceedings. These services provide tools victims need to reshape their futures.
Further information about National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is available at https://www.ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw.
The Crystal Kipper & Ali Kemp Memorial Award
Crystal Kipper was an 18-year-old Gladstone, Mo., resident who was murdered after her car broke down on Interstate 29, just north of Platte City, on Feb. 24, 1997. Ali Kemp was a 19-year-old Blue Valley North High School graduate who was murdered on June 18, 2002, while she worked at the Foxborough neighborhood swimming pool in Leawood, Kan.