After incidents of violence in the Garfield Park neighborhood, Breakthrough’s victim advocates respond to support victims and their families. Alantha Miles, victim services coordinator, hopes her team leaves an impression that inspires participants to show that same love, grace, and understanding to others.

Helping Each Person Thrive

As part of Breakthrough’s Violence Prevention team, victim advocates provide comprehensive services to victims and their families. They understand the burden traumatic events put on our neighbors and respond with an effort to restore dignity and respect.

“Whenever there is a shooting incident, our victim advocates are dispatched to the hospitals, sometimes crime scenes, to make a trauma-informed connection with the victims and/or the families of the victims,” Alantha says. 

Alantha Miles and two victim advocates pose for a picture outdoors near the Breakthrough Men's Center
Victim Services Coordinator Alantha Miles (middle) and victim advocates.

The initial support is often emotional, she says, but they also provide ongoing support in the weeks and months that follow. They might help with funeral or repast arrangements, connect participants to mental health services, or help pay medical bills or rent. They may also be someone for participants to talk to, to go with them to appointments, or to be a source of encouragement.

“For us, it’s all about connecting with these individuals and finding out at an individual level what that person needs in order to be successful, in order to thrive, after they have been a part of such a traumatic incident,” Alantha says.

The Ripple Effect of Victim Services

This Black History Month, we consider the contribution of Alantha and victim advocates in the eyes of history. Though the impact of violence is felt throughout communities, Alantha hopes that, as they partner with each person, the impression of her small team creates a ripple effect.

“We’re only so many people,” she says. “Our exact touch cannot extend across the world, but when we touch someone else and then they touch someone else, that’s how we get the message across.”

Alantha tells the story of a woman who participated in Breakthrough’s services. When a family member experienced trauma, she passed on that same love, grace, and understanding that victim advocates shared with her in a moment of need. Alantha recalls, “She said, you know, Ms. Alantha did this for me so I’m going to do that for you.”

“My hope for victim services is that as we keep on making differences in individuals’ lives that they’ll make a difference in someone else’s,” she says.