At first glance, Brandi Bartel says working in her career field may appear depressing. After all, as executive director of The Victim Center Inc., she often encounters the implications and collateral damage of tragic situations – broken families, physical injuries from abuse and the emotional turmoil of crime victims.
But those encounters are why Bartel says she does her job.
“Although it can be difficult to hear the stories of human suffering, I also have the privilege of seeing the healing that can happen on the other side of tragedy,” she says. “People often approach me in public years later to thank me for the work I do. Recently, a woman at the grocery store told me we saved her life. These moments are what get me out of bed each morning ready for a new day.”
The Victim Center provides multiple services for men, women and children who are victims of violence. Bartel began working as income developer and project director in 2005. In 2008, she was promoted to assistant director, and Bartel became executive director Sept. 1, 2012. She currently oversees 18 employees and 100 volunteers.
Jo Macdonnell, corporate controller for SRC Holdings Corp. and board chairwoman for The Victim Center, has worked closely with Bartel for years.
“I have never met anyone more dedicated and passionate about her work,” Macdonnell says. “Brandi is tireless in her efforts to bring awareness to the community of the unfortunate need of The Victim Center.”
Macdonnell also says Bartel is an exceptional steward of The Victim Center’s financials, with honest decision making that puts clients, donors and staff first. Bartel displayed these skills expanding the reach of The Victim Center – which she says is her proudest achievement.
The Victim Center is seeing a record number of clients, with more than 3,800 individuals assisted in 2016. The center’s space and staffing was insufficient to meet the need, Bartel said, so she formed partnerships with organizations to fund new positions and relocated staff to make them more readily available for clients’ needs.
“I am most proud of this accomplishment because of what it means to those who need our services,” she says. “Victims who call us are in crisis and often in life-threatening situations. It’s vital that these hurting individuals have access to the help they need.”
Bartel also is involved with multiple local organizations, including the Missouri Department of Public Safety’s Advisory Council to the Crime Victim Services Unit, the Child Abuse and Neglect Collaborative, Domestic Violence Taskforce, the Child Advocacy Center’s board and Isabel’s House advisory council.
Creating a support system is critical for crime victims, Bartel says, but also an applicable principal for the community in general. That’s how everyone succeeds.
“I truly believe that the health and safety of our citizens rely upon a strong network of collaborating organizations from various sectors of the community,” she says. “We all succeed when we work together, and we are stronger together as a team than apart.”
A pair of area medical colleges that received state grant funding in the fall are now investing the funds toward technology and new programs with the intent of attracting more students to the nursing profession.