Former Sociology Student Earns New Victim/Survivor Navigator Position

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Erin Tonda will help survivors traumatized by the Feb. 20, 2016 mass shooting in Kalamazoo.

KALAMAZOO, MI– A former attorney and yoga and wellness instructor will help those affected by the mass tragedies in Kalamazoo in 2016 connect with the help and services they need to recover.

Erin Tonda has been named to the position created by the Battle Creek Community Foundation, the Kalamazoo Foundation and the United Way in the wake of a mass shooting in Kalamazoo in February, 2016.

The position of Victim/Survivor Navigator is funded by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Crime Victims Services.

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A victim survivor “navigator” will help advocates in the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor’s Office who have been working with families of victims and survivors.

The Battle Creek Community Foundation, the Kalamazoo Foundation and the United Way are partners of HelpNow!, and secured the grant.

Tonda retired from the practice of law in 2013  to study and teach yoga, meditation and wellness in the Kalamazoo area.

She has a B.A. in Sociology from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and earned her J.D. and LL.M. degrees at Michigan State University College of Law, as well as Georgetown University, respectively.

Four women with ties to Battle Creek were killed in the shooting rampage around Kalamazoo on Feb. 20, 2016 that also killed a father and son from Mattawan, and wounded a Battle Creek teen and a Kalamazoo woman.

Following that tragedy, the navigator position was borne out of a visit to Kalamazoo and Battle Creek in the summer of 2016 by Dr. Jeannie Barr, a specialist in trauma-informed therapy.

It was her recommendation that as a result of the mass shooting in Kalamazoo a victim/survivor navigator would be needed to identify and assist any and all victims affected, including witnesses, first responders, direct victims and their survivors, survivors and their families.

According to a news release about the new position, the Victim/Survivor Navigator will conduct a needs assessment with each of the victims in order to connect each with individualized services and assistance.

Additionally, the navigator will collaborate with other non-profit agencies to determine a plan of response should another mass violence attack occur in the Kalamazoo area.

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