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Albany Med, UAlbany Volunteers Pack Survival Kits for Victims of Sexual Assault

'We Care' Project Produces Kits for Victims in the Aftermath of Sexual Assault and Forensic Examination

UAlbany, Albany Med, and community volunteers joined together in the "We Care" project to pack and deliver "survival kits" to Albany med, for victims who have undergone forensic testing in the aftermath of sexual assault. (Photo by Arleny Alvarez-Pena)

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 28, 2015) -- The kits are simple but packed with care and the promise of support. The mission is simpler still -- to bring items of comfort and necessity to victims of sexual assault and the forensic testing that follows.

The University at Albany, Albany Medical Center, and community volunteers joined together Tuesday evening at UAlbany's SEFCU Arena to pack and deliver "survival kits" to victims who have undergone forensic testing in the aftermath of sexual assault. Some 200 kits were delivered to Albany Medical Center for use in treating victims, transported by ambulance services Five Quad, of the University at Albany, and Albany County EMS, of the Office of the Sheriff.

The "We Care" project kits contained items such as clothing, toiletries, a hairbrush, teddy bear, journal, and a personal note from the packer. Victims, said We Care organizers, find comfort in the kit's familiar items and gain a sense of taking back control of their lives, as clothing and personal items are often left behind for testing.

We care on sexual assault
The We Care survival kits featured clean clothing, toiletries, a hairbrush, teddy bear, journal, and a personal note from the packer. (Photo by Arleny Alvarez-Pena)

"On behalf of Albany Medical Center and the more than 100 sexual assault patients we treat each year, I commend the University at Albany, Rite Aid, Walmart, CVS, W.B. Mason, and other community members for their support of this very important effort to provide simple measures of comfort that will help put victims of sexual assault on track for healing and strength," said Chame Blackburn, M.D., emergency physician at Albany Med and director of Albany Med’s Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners Program.

“While the small items provided may seem trivial, this event symbolizes something of greater magnitude. It says that we as a community care about these victims. Our goal is to draw attention to sexual assault and educate our community on how together, we can prevent and support those who have been affected by sexual violence."

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, every 107 seconds an American is sexually assaulted, and 293,000 people in the United States are sexually assaulted every year. Albany Medical Center treated 132 cases of sexual assault in 2014. The hospital's emergency department is staffed 24/7 by SAFE examiners who are specially trained to treat sexual assault victims and collect evidence that can aid in conviction, work which is supported by equipment purchased through a grant from the federal Department of Criminal Justice.

"The University at Albany was proud to host this event in collaboration with Albany Medical Center and other community partners," said Chantelle Cleary, UAlbany's Title IX coordinator. “It is our hope that the participation of our students and staff in this event will bring some measure of healing to survivors of sexual violence in the wake of victimization.”

The Title IX Coordinator, uniquely a full-time position at the University at Albany, is responsible for the University's compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, including systematically monitoring policy and procedures that respond to complaints of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault, and to ensure that all students have equal educational opportunities.

The We Care project, planned during April to heighten awareness of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, was supported by Albany Medical Center, the University at Albany, and community partners Rite Aid, Walmart, W.B. Mason, and CVS.

Albany Medical Center

Albany Medical Center, northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center, is one of the largest private employers in the Capital Region. It incorporates the 734-bed Albany Medical Center Hospital, which offers the widest range of medical and surgical services in the region, and the Albany Medical College, which trains the next generation of doctors, scientists and other healthcare professionals, and also includes a biomedical research enterprise and the region’s largest physicians practice with more than 450 doctors. Albany Medical Center works with dozens of community partners to improve the region’s health and quality of life. For more information: www.amc.edu or www.facebook.com/albanymedicalcenter.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.