Our 2008 event honored an incredible woman as our “Making a Difference for Women Award” Awardee. Rev. Jan Heglund, law enforcement chaplain, was honored at "Soul Patrol" on April 26, 2008, at the Club at McInnis.
The fundraiser was dedicated to the Jeannette Prandi Children’s Center and West Coast Post-trauma Retreat, Inc. (WCPR)
The Jeannette Prandi Children’s Center (JPCC) is a child-friendly forensic interview center located in Lucas Valley, San Rafael. This center provides a safe and friendly atmosphere where child victims are interviewed by an interview specialist who is part of a specialized team.
California law requires multiple agencies to investigate allegations of child sexual molestation. Even though the young victim may be suffering from post-traumatic stress, shame, and fear, several agencies are required tor interview the child -- often adding to his/her trauma and weakening any hope of convicting the abuser. The JPCC brings all of these agencies together so that the child is interviewed only once, by the specialist on behalf of all the agencies, while others observe behind a one-way mirror.
The JPCC also provides education and training for law enforcement, social workers, parents and teachers on issues related to child abuse.
West Coast Post-trauma Retreat, Inc., (WCPR) is a residential critical incident debriefing program for first responders and their families. The SOS program of WCPR is for the partners of first responders.
The Women Making a Difference Award, formerly called the Women of Distinction Award, honors women who have made outstanding achievements in their professional, business or volunteer activities. Awardees have demonstrated exemplary character, integrity and leadership; and, have been visible and vocal in their field. Their activities relate to at least one of the following areas: economic and social development, education, environment, health, human rights/status of women, and international goodwill and understanding.
When Reverend Jan Heglund gets dressed to minister to her flock, first she puts on a bullet proof vest, and then she puts on her religious collar. Rev. Jan as she is called is a law enforcement chaplain, as well as a deacon at Christ Church in Sausalito, California. For the past 15 years, she has been ministering to police, FBI and anyone in need that crosses their paths. She is a known presence at police briefings and crime scenes, as well as weddings and funerals. She is a trusted servant of law enforcement, a spiritual presence so needed in that field. Rev. Jan’s quiet presence has soothed violent abusers and given courage to victims. She has given solace to loved ones on death notifications. When the police officer officially assigned to the case must move on, Rev. Jan stays and spends as much time as is needed to give people time to gather themselves.
The world of law enforcement is a special one where whether and officer is a man or a woman, macho is the word of the day. It is not acceptable in that world to show weakness or fear, yet every day, every shift these officers face danger and death. Jan will ride patrol with officers, assuring them that what is said in the patrol car stays in the patrol car. Officers open up about their fears, concerns, dreams and hopes. Rev. Jan provides them a safe outlet for many things they would not share with others.
She always has a special word or thought to carry people through hard times. She has spent hours with police officers who are traumatized by critical incidents. She arrived on the scene of a terrible accident, where a pedestrian had been hit by about seven different cars. The responding officer was the same one who had recently been first on the scene when a pregnant woman was killed in her car by a load of boulders dropped from an overpass by an overturned truck. The accumulation of these scenes was beginning to be too much for him. Rev. Jan spent about five hours with him, tending to his emotional needs, caring for him, letting him talk, walking with him by the water. These officers trust her completely. She helps to heal them.
Rev. Jan helped found West Coast Post-trauma Retreat (WCPR), a critical incident debriefing program for emergency responders. This intense five-day residential program gets first responders (police, firefighters, EMT’s, ER nurses, correctional officers, dispatchers. . .) who have been felled by Post-traumatic Stress (PTSD) on the road to recovery and back into service of the community. Rev. Jan’s pastoral presence is a considerable part of the program.
One emerging program of WCPR that is of particular note is the Spouses and Significant Others program. While governmental agencies employing first responders are beginning to recognize their obligation to provide treatment services from PTSD, there is no service provided for family members of these workers who frequently suffer from vicarious traumatization. Emergency Responders suffer from an extremely high rate of divorce, alcoholism and suicide. Their families deal with the ravages of these unhealthful coping mechanisms. Jan, and her crew at WCPR, provide a critical incident debriefing program for spouses and loved ones of first responders. The great majority of attendees to this program are women. This program helps to restore relationships, self-sufficiency, and sometimes, survival.
Rev. Jan is an inspiration. Despite the horrors and traumas that she herself has witnessed, she is an optimist and uplifting spirit. She always has the right words that have a special touch on the soul. What a difference she is making for women. The example she sets by entering a world mostly dominated by men, gives courage and hope to all women who seek to expand their horizons.