A hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on – when a crisis strikes in the community, Trauma Intervention Programs (TIP) volunteers are there.
And for their service, nearly 20 volunteers from the TIP Southwest Riverside County Chapter were honored Friday night during the TIP Heroes with Heart Seventh Annual Awards Dinner at In addition to the volunteers, dozens of police, fire and medical personnel were also honored, along with good Samaritans who’ve taken the extra step to help citizens affected by trauma.
Spearheaded by TIP Southwest Riverside County Executive Director Gina Magee, Friday’s fundraiser gala saw nearly 200 guests, many with amazing stories of service and personal experience.
Magee, who has been with TIP for eight years and is married to Lake Elsinore Mayor Pro Tem Bob Magee, came to the organization after losing her father. Sitting alone in the hospital, awaiting word from doctors about her dad, Magee said it was an experience she didn’t want others to go through.
“I heard about TIP after he died,” she said, and a light went on.
Magee, a petite woman who exudes gigantic warmth and compassion, said TIP volunteers are called out to investigation scenes by first responders whenever a traumatic incident happens – homicide and other crime, suicide, serious injury, or accidental death. The volunteers are the liasons between officials and the family, friends and witnesses on scene, she said.
, a TIP volunteer was called to sit with the family. Her job was to reach out to the surviving wife and two sons who were also on the lake that day.
As search and rescue combed the lake, the TIP volunteer ensured the family was as comfortable and safe as possible, and that their immediate needs were met. Whether it was drying their clothes or providing tissue for them, she was there.
“It’s emotional first aid,” Magee said of the volunteer work. “You’re there to provide empathy and find out what they need. It’s the act of kindness that keeps on.”
Maureen Bowlin, a registered nurse who works in trauma unit, said her staff relies heavily on TIP volunteers to comfort victims.
“They stay by that grieving person,” Bowlin shared. “They never stop. They’re the hand-holders and they’re phenomenal at what they do.”
TIP volunteers do not dispense any therapy nor do they provide medical updates to victims – they leave that up to the professionals, Bowlin explained.
Captain Dave Fontneau of the Lake Elsinore Sheriff’s Station said his department relies heavily on TIP volunteers.
“They are part of our team,” he said. “We couldn’t do without them.”
In Southwest Riverside County, there are 48 TIP volunteers, male and female, who range in age from 16 to 84 years. The younger volunteers are called to comfort teen victims.
Magee said the volunteers each undergo 55 hours of “emotionally difficult” training.
“We pull from our own experiences,” she said of the educational process.
Linda Mejia sits on the TIP Board of Directors. She came to the organization after losing her 16-year-old son, Adam, to cancer. The Temecula Valley High School student was a wrestler, and during his battle with the disease Linda said the community reached out to her family.
As a result of the outpouring and support the Mejias received, after Adam’s passing Linda said she “wanted to be there for someone else.”
“It was the school of hard knocks” that brought her to TIP, but she said, “it’s an honor and a privilege to be there for somebody.”