FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Alexa L. Markoff, Director of Development
Rape Victim Advocates
(312) 443-9603 x21
Rape Victim Advocates Volunteer Receives Governor’s Volunteer Service Award
Chicago, IL (April 8, 2016) Rape Victim Advocates (RVA) volunteer Kaite O’Brien will receive the 2016 Illinois Governor’s Volunteer Service Award at a ceremony on April 13 in Springfield, IL. This highly respected award recognizes individual volunteers through a statewide award program that highlights the importance of volunteerism and community service in the State of Illinois. Individual awards are presented in three age groups in five service regions across the state. Kaite was chosen from 200 nominations in the Northeast Adult category.
A survivor of sexual assault, Kaite received services from RVA in 2010 and began volunteering at RVA in 2011 as part of the organization’s 24-hour crisis response to 14 partner hospital emergency departments, providing information and emotional support to survivors and helping them navigate the medical and legal systems. She later volunteered in RVA’s Education and Training Program where she visited schools to teach students about sexual assault awareness and prevention programming. Based on Kaite’s outstanding work in the emergency room as a medical advocate, Kaite was promoted to a volunteer shift supervisor in 2013. In this role, Kaite takes 60-hour on-call shifts, fielding hospital pages, dispatching advocates to specific emergency rooms, providing technical assistance and emotional support and mentoring volunteer advocates.
Kaite chairs RVA’s Volunteer Committee and, in 2013, Kaite was recognized as RVA’s Education and Training Volunteer of the Year. Based on her RVA activities, time spent as a law clerk at the State’s Attorney’s Office and her work as a criminal defense attorney, she realized that her strengths and passions centered around helping individuals going through traumatic experiences. She currently is working to obtain her Ph.D. in clinical psychology. In 2015, Kaite was selected as the keynote speaker at RVA’s annual fundraiser, Soirée in the City. She eloquently spoke about how RVA helped her heal from her sexual assault, and how volunteering is part of her healing process.
“Kaite is a shining example of our dedicated volunteer corps. She is a passionate advocate, educator, leader and mentor and has contributed to every aspect of RVA’s mission. Her impact on the lives of survivors in the emergency room and the advocates who serve them is deep and lasting, and is informed by her own survivorship and courage. We are thrilled that her commitment is being recognized with such a prestigious award,” said Sharmili Majmudar, Executive Director of Rape Victim Advocates.
Kaite also volunteers at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and provides information and support to families of transplant and cardiothoracic patients who are in surgery. Kaite was born in Chicago, IL and raised in South Bend, IN. She is a practicing attorney, as well as a research assistant in the psychology laboratory at DePaul University. Kaite graduated from Colgate University in 2006 and from the DePaul University College of Law in 2009. She currently resides in Chicago.
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Rape Victim Advocates (RVA) is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the healing and empowerment of sexual assault survivors through non-judgmental crisis intervention, counseling and medical and legal advocacy in the Chicago area. RVA provides public education and institutional advocacy in order to improve the treatment of sexual assault survivors and to effect positive change in policies and public attitudes toward sexual assault. RVA envisions a world where prevention efforts and global awareness of sexual violence expose rape myths, remove stigmas, eliminate rape and support all individuals as equal members of society. RVA began in 1974 and continues to celebrate many years of support to survivors and works to build a society that is intolerant of sexual violence.