Marie Perkins is a Germantown knows all too well the pains of violence in Germantown after living in the community for 42 years. Her 53-year-old son was robbed and gunned down in September 2011, dying from that incident weeks later. Perkins said that her son, a Germantown High School graduate and U.S. Army veteran, always helped her around her home.
“He was always giving a helping hand not only to me but to everyone. Me being a widower and living by myself he was always here. He was helpful in every way that he could possibly be,” Perkins said.
Even though Perkins’ son had been incarcerated for almost two years, she said he was still was a good person. Perkin’s son left behind four children and she said that “they were a part of his life and he was a part of their lives.”
The many people who interacted with her son are still feeling his absence months after his crime-triggered death Perkins said. “He’s sadly missed by all and I’m still getting calls and cards from people and various friends,” Perkins said.
Although the death Perkins’ son’s remains under investigation by police, she is receiving assistance from Northwest Victim Services. This non-profit organization in Germantown, with one court advocate and two victim advocates, assists crime victims and witnesses with referral services, crisis counseling, assistance with emergency needs, intervention with various criminal justice system agencies and assistance in filing crime victim compensation claims.
“Northwest Victim Services has been very helpful with me as far as getting all my expenses in order in which we have been communicating,” Perkins said.
Perkins’ story is one of many that Northwest Victim Services encounters. Most of the crimes in Germantown and East Germantown are aggravated assault, fraud, burglary, theft, white-collar crime, sexual assaults and homicides, a Northwest Services spokesperson said.
Northwest Victim Services was founded in 1985 becoming the first neighborhood-based victim service agency in Philadelphia to serve crime in a specific geographic area. Not only does Northwest Services serve the 5th, 14th, 35th, and 39th Police Districts that cover a wide area of Northwest Philadelphia, this agency also works with the District Attorney’s Office, schools and other community agencies. Northwest Victim Services stands as one way that the people of Germantown are able to fight back against violence and crime in the community. The organization that provides support and information to victims, families, friends and neighbors in the Germantown community is a free service.
The goals of the Northwest Victim Services are to enhance safety, reduce the fear of crime, meet the emotional, financial and social needs of crime victims and to promote mutual cooperation between the community and law enforcement. Through the support, advocacy and informational services, Northwest Victim Services has serviced more than 4,000 victims and assisted with more than 1,500 preliminary hearings and trials during just 2010-2011.
In order to keep the organization running, funding comes from the State of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia District Attorney. When need governmental funding falls short, Northwest Services Executive Director Patricia Payne has to raise money with the help of her board members. Each year the organization has one major fundraiser, which is the Jazz Reception and Silent Auction/Raffle. To keep variety in the events, Payne explained that Northwest Victim Services hosts bowling parties and flapjack breakfasts to raise money.
“We changed it up a little bit. We had a Totally ’80s Flashback event where we reminisced of how successful we were in 30 years and guests dressed up in ’80s wear,” Payne said.
In order to combat violence in the community, Northwest Victim Services has made a few community collaborations. Its connection with Stand for Something Program is an outlet dedicated to the youth and is provided in schools. The Senior Community Outreach Program centers on presentations about safety to older adults. The organization also partners with community groups and business to help provide educational services and support.
Even after the court proceedings involving a victims are over, the victims will still be a part of Northwest. “I am active in my church and I do a lot of volunteer work in the church and the community as well, I will be communication with Northwest Victim Services as time goes on because they invited me before to a coffee klatch in which I attended and I met Ms. Payne and others,” Marie Perkins said.