New program to open lines of communication with crime victims

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Veronica Garcia is a crisis counselor at Total Action for Progress, and works with victims of domestic violence., including some who don't speak Engish.

Tuesday, she joined Family Service of Roanoke Valley and other community partners as they launched a new program that will provide interpreters for any crime victim whose English language skills are limited.

"I believe it's going to help people that don't speak the language," Garcia told WDBJ7, "by allowing them to feel more opened up to be able to communicate and express their needs."

Roanoke is now home to more than 100 nationalities, and local agencies will have access to services in more than 200 different languages.

Sharon Thacker is the CEO of Family Service of Roanoke Valley.

"So we're providing services currently to people who speak Swahili, people who speak Kirundi, Spanish, Vietnamese."

Baraka Kasongo is the CEO of Volatia Language Network, the company founded here in western Virginia that will coordinate the interpreters' services.

"There has always been the need," Kasongo said in an interview. "And all of us have certainly recognized the diversity of our region, but at the same time organizations are realizing this requires a collaborative effort."

A $280,000 criminal justice grant is paying for these services in the next year. And the organizations say they hope to receive similar funding in the future.