Melissa Sale has a passion for helping people lead better lives. During the work-week, she serves as program manager for Livermore Laboratory Employee Services Association (LLESA), overseeing a range of programs for Lab employees. Away from work, she volunteers for the Tri-Valley Haven as a member of their Sexual Assault Response Team.
"We're called out in the event of a sexual assault by the police or hospital. Our job is to be an advocate for the survivor. The responding officers are focused on catching the perpetrator and can get really intense in their questioning and not tuned in to the needs of the survivor.
"We can help them through the questioning so they don't have to tell their story over and over. We can offer assistance afterwards too, whether it's changing their phone number or installing an alarm system for their house or getting them into a safe shelter."
The Tri-Valley Haven was started in 1977 as a crisis line. Today, the haven also provides a rape crisis center, a domestic violence shelter at an undisclosed-location, a restraining order and legal services clinic, a homeless shelter (the only one in the area that accepts single fathers with children), a food pantry, as well as counseling and support services.
"The haven does really good, really important work," says Sale. "Many people don't know or don't want to believe that domestic violence is a problem in the Tri-Valley. But sadly it is, with the recession probably more than ever."
Helping women in need has long been a passion for Sale. "When I was growing up, my mom was in a volatile relationship, and I looked for other, healthier role models. I started volunteering at a women's shelter in college, and I've been involved in some capacity ever since."
Before coming to the Lab, Sale worked at the Tri-Valley Haven as their Education and Prevention coordinator. She presented talks at local high schools and middle schools on bullying and harassment and on sexual assault and dating violence prevention. She also provided training in self-defense for women and young girls.
"People in this field work every day hoping one day not to have a job because the world is free of violence. That day isn't here yet, but maybe someday..."
For more information about the Tri-Valley Haven, including their holiday Gingerbread Cookie fundraiser, visit the Website .