DA’s office receives $130K to support domestic violence survivors

  • Maria Zoraida Agudelo with a $130,000 check she accepted on behalf of the Northwestern District Attorney’s office to support its efforts to increase the safety of domestic violence survivors. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 3/10/2022 9:09:11 AM
Modified: 3/10/2022 9:08:38 AM

GREENFIELD — The Northwestern District Attorney’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit has received a $130,000 award from the state’s Violence Against Women Act that will support its efforts to increase the safety of domestic violence survivors.

Maria Zoraida Agudelo, director of domestic violence projects with the DA’s office, attended a ceremony in Worcester last week to formally accept the award from Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.

“It was very exciting to see how interested they are in helping survivors of sexual violence,” Zoraida Agudelo said in a statement, noting the outreach to people of marginalized populations, such as the LGBTQ community. “It is encouraging to see how the state supports our work.”

The award to the DA’s office comes in the final year of a five-year state grant supporting its Domestic Violence Intervention Project, an initiative coordinating the efforts of police and community advocates in working with survivors by providing support, safety information and referrals for counseling, shelter and legal advocacy immediately after domestic violence incidents are reported.

“This money will help continue our work to keep victims safe,” said Assistant District Attorney Sandra Staub, chief of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit.

“It takes a holistic approach to keep the victims of domestic violence safe, which means by working on prevention and intervention we are in the best position to prevent needless tragedy in our community,” Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan said in a statement.

The $130,000 award is part of nearly $3 million in grant funding the Baker-Polito administration announced last week for 37 community-based organizations, police departments and state agencies as part of the Violence Against Women Act’s Services, Training, Officers and Prosecutors Grant Program. This program, administered by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s Office of Grants and Research, is intended to strengthen the criminal justice system’s response to domestic violence and sexual assault while enhancing services for survivors.

Polito announced the awards alongside state Public Safety and Security Secretary Terrence Reidy, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr., and several grant recipients at Worcester District Court.

“Every awardee has an essential role in protecting the safety and well-being of at-risk women and girls,” Polito, who is also chair of the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, said in a statement. “Our administration is pleased to support their mission and ensure their access to the resources necessary for their vital work.”

Over the past five years, $15.3 million in Violence Against Women Act money has been distributed statewide to support domestic and sexual assault survivors and their families, according to the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.

Reach Domenic Poli at dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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