Victim advocate honored for years of work
GREENFIELD — Bonnie Press has been named the Gerard D. Downing Advocate of the Year, for her dedicated service to the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office.
Press, of Easthampton, works out of the NWDA’s Greenfield office. She has been with the NWDA’s office for more than 30 years, starting in 1980 as an intern.
She became a full-time advocate in the office’s victim witness assistance unit in 1984, and rose to the rank of deputy director of the unit in 1990.
The victim witness assistance unit provides crisis intervention counseling and support to violent crime victims, helps domestic violence victims file abuse prevention orders, and gives guidance on the court process and the rights of victims and witnesses to crimes.
Press said the real honor comes from the help she provides to clients.
“The reward of this work is the opportunity it presents to make a positive difference in victims’ experiences at court during a very vulnerable time in their lives,” said Press.
Last year, the unit’s 15 advocates were assigned to 2,377 cases, serving 2,850 victims, 1,598 witnesses and 15 family members.
“There is no one who is more deserving of this recognition than Bonnie,” said Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan. “She is a tireless advocate for victims and makes all our prosecutors shine in court.”
The award, named for the late Downing, a former district attorney, is given yearly by the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, to honor a lifetime of achievement.
According to the MDAA, it recognizes “the special combination of talents embodied in a truly outstanding advocate: a deep compassion for and empathetic understanding of the needs of crime victims and their families; outstanding skill in anticipating and providing advice, counseling and services; an ability to instill in victims a sense of dignity and confidence and the ability to reach and touch victims that makes them feel, regardless of the prosecution outcome, that their voice had been heard.”