Calbert: Fighting for victims of abuse, violence

Published 11:06 am Monday, December 19, 2016

When people come to Susie Calbert for help, she draws on a wealth of experience in social service to get them the assistance they need.
Calbert is one of two victim’s assistance coordinators in the Warren County District Attorney’s Office and deals with women and children affected by domestic violence and abuse.
She is also a member of United Way of West Central Mississippi’s Board of Directors and its executive board and a member of the Haven House board. A Vicksburg Native, she also has experience working for one of the county’s social agencies, the CAP Center.
“I worked with the Vicksburg Child and Parent Center for 12 years,” she said. “ I left there and came here. I’ve been working with families and children for about 16 years.
“Since I worked with the CAP center, I had an ongoing relationship with what was going in in our service area with its partner agencies, when I have clients come in, I can refer them to the resources in the community.”
Calbert began working for the CAP Center in 2000 as a parent aide coordinator at its satellite office in Claiborne County. She took a one-year leave of absence in 2007 to get a master’s in community counseling from Jackson State University and to do a one-year internship at the Marian Hill Chemical Dependency Center, before returning to the CAP Center as a court-appointed special advocate for children.
It was her work for the district attorney and the CAP Center that brought her to the attention of then-United Way director Barbara Tolliver, who asked her to join the board.
“I agreed because of their mission and everything United Way stands for, I know how important it is to our community,” she said. “And anything I can do to assist that agency, I’m willing to do that.”
Calbert’s recognition of United Way, she said, goes back to her first job.
“Ever since I received my first pay check, I’ve been donating to United Way, because of the services they provide to the community,” she said.
When she worked for the CAP Center, she added, she would participate in the annual fundraising campaigns, talk about the center and United Way to different businesses, “making them aware of what their money did for the community and about the families who receive those funds, and how important it is to give and how people benefit.”
She became involved with Haven House through her work at the CAP Center, by teaching parenting classes at the agency.
“It is a valuable resource for families and for promoting domestic violence awareness. Because I deal with victims that come in my office who are domestic violence victims, being aware and knowing what services are offered and helping them to make those decisions are important when you’re working with victims in your community.”
She said her position as a victim’s assistance coordinator gives her some insight into what’s going in the community to help a victim make the important decisions that will be in their best interest.
“The rewarding part for me is knowing once we’re involved in the situation, where the assistance is coming from that the person will receive and that will be beneficial to them,” she said. “It’s knowing I’ve been able to help in some kind of way.
“I think it’s important that we know what’s going in in our community and what services are being offered,” Calbert said. “When someone calls in and ask about service, I know because I’m always making sure I’m up to date on any services; anything that will beneficial to our community I want to be aware of it, so if someone calls me, I want to say, ‘Yes I do know, I know someone who can help you.’ ”
She said the United Way board members are up-to-date on the agencies because United Way makes it possible for them to visit the partner agencies and meet the people working there. “That is always helpful,” she said.
When her time on the United Way board is over, Calbert said she wants to continue volunteering in some aspect of the community.
“As long as United Way will have me as a volunteer or board member, I’m willing to be a part of that team,” she said. “When that time ends, I’ll always make myself available, because I fully understand the importance of charitable work and volunteerism, and of donations, because we have to have donations to keep the programs running.”

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About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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