This month, we wanted to bring you an in-depth look to Support Within Reach’s (SWR) multidisciplinary teams, what they do and how to get more information. These teams are located in each of our counties, which include Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater and Hubbard.

Our Cass County Sexual Assault Multidisciplinary Action Team (C-SMART) is led by Marcy Webber in Walker. C-SMART has met every other month with the purpose of ensuring victim-centered responses by coordinating, cooperating and communicating with our partner agencies. The agencies that have been involved are Cass County Sheriff’s Office, Cass County Attorney’s Office, Cass County Health, Human and Veteran Services, Department of Corrections, Cass County Victim Services, Indian Health Services, Leech Lake Tribal Police and Leech Lake Family Violence Prevention Program.

Currently, with the help of team members, we have talked about inviting community members to the table. At this time we are still in brainstorming mode and any changes will happen next year. Our last meeting this year will be Nov. 19 n Zoom. If anyone would like more information about the team, call 218 547 4892.

Our Beltrami County Sexual Assault Multidisciplinary Action Team (B-SMART) is led by Riley Irish in Bemidji. The mission of B-SMART is “to implement and sustain compassionate, victim-centered response to sexual violence that is inclusive of all communities, and promotes victim’s definitions of healing, justice, and accountability.” B-SMART is currently looking at having a “B-SMART” day at Bemidji State University in 2021. We are also creating a questionnaire for our past and current clients to determine how we can improve our services and organizations. Current members of B-SMART include Bemidji Police Department, Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, Sanford Health, Beltrami County Attorney’s Office, Face It Together, Bemidji State University, Red Lake Public Safety, and more. If you would like information on joining the team, contact Riley at 218-444-9524 or r.irish@supporwithinreach.org.

Our Hubbard County Sexual Assault Multidisciplinary Action Team (HU-SMART) is led by Samantha Stevens in Park Rapids. Partner agencies include Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office, Park Rapids Police Department, Hubbard County Attorney’s Office, St. Joseph’s Catholic Initiative, Family Safety Network, Lake County Associates and Group Works. This team meets bi-monthly at a pre-arranged date and time. For more information, contact Samantha at 218-732-3300 or s.stevens@supportwithinreach.org.

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Finally, two groups are led by Gabrielle Congrave, our new regional navigator, and past Clearwater County advocate and sexually exploited youth coordinator in Bagley. The Headwaters Alliance Against Sex Trafficking & Exploitation’s (HAASTE) mission is “to address all forms of sexual exploitation through community awareness and education.” Partner organizations include BSU, Oak Hills, Evergreen, Northhomes, RLPD, Beltrami County CPS, and others.

Right now, HAASTE is working on plans for trafficking awareness month in January, which include publishing art and writing by victims/survivors in zine format. We have started invited community members into the group as well as representatives from partner organizations. We are setting up a series of interviews to raise awareness about sexual trafficking and exploitation, and the SH4ALL (Safe Harbor for All) legislation/movement. We work together to offer training for organizations that may come into contact with sexually exploited youth and/or adults, and collaborate to provide creative programming for sexually exploited youth.

Congave is also restarting the Clearwater County Sexual Assault Response Team (CC-SART). Partner organizations have included Clearwater County Social Services and CPS, the Clearwater County Attorney’s office, Bagley PD, Clearwater County Sheriff, DOVE and others.

Right now, our focus is on starting back up again. We have discussed giving special focus to Rice Lake, specifically the area known as “the loop” to help address sexual violence, exploitation and systemic neglect that has occurred in that area. Like HAASTE, we are seeking to involve more members of the community in our meetings. If you would like more information on joining these groups, email g.congrave@supporwithinreach.org.

Support Within Reach is a private, non-profit, community service organization serving residents and those impacted by incidents of sexual violence in Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Hubbard and Itasca counties. They offer victim support and advocacy through its 24-hour crisis line (1-800-708-2727) or Park Rapids office (237-0300).