The breakfast and awards ceremony at the Shores Resort and Spa recognized local law enforcement and victims advocates throughout the county.
Members of the Ormond Beach Police Department were recognized for their service and actions during the Victims’ Rights Week Breakfast & Awards Ceremony on Friday, April 12.
The event, presented by The Victims’ Services Coalition of the 7th Judicial Circuit and the Halifax Health Hospice Traumatic Loss Program, was held to honor law enforcement officers and victim advocates throughout the county in observance of the National Crime Victim's Right Week, which wraps up on April 13.
OBPD Detective Benita Hamilton, Victim Advocate Evelyn Rebostini and volunteer Gini Bass were among the people nominated in their corresponding categories. In addition, Rebostini and Bass were selected as victim advocate of the year and volunteer of the year, respectively.
“It is your work on the enforcement side as well that really helps keep our community together and to protect the rights of citizens in the county," said Heather Post, Volusia County Councilwoman, before she read the county proclamation for the breakfast.
The guest speaker for the breakfast was Emilee Cope, victim advocate for the Edgewater Police Department. Cope's father was murdered 10 years ago after he was hogtied to his bed for four days, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
She told the approximate 100 people in attendance that after it happened, getting out of bed was a fight. She was 15 years old at the time, and her father's murder caused her to struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety.
But, she said she was fortunate enought to have a support network made up of family, friends, counselors with the Halifax Hopice Traumatic Loss program, as well as her spirituality. Looking back on the person she was 10 years ago, Cope said she sees a young girl who was brave, strong and wise.
“I believe that our past is a stepping stone, not a destination," Cope said. "The past holds all of our lessons. It is the source of all of our experiences and memories and deserves to be reflected upon and honored for the purpose it has served.”
State Attorney R.J. Larizza was the keynote speaker, and he spoke about the importance of connecting with victims and their families. That's the wonder of the work those involved with the law do, he said.
“Share a piece of you with them," Larizza said. "Yes, you will lose something when you do that and you will be experiencing some of the pain that these folks are going through, but you’re going to receive much more. And so will they.”