Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The "Meet Planned Parenthood Series" - Jeff Pier

Some people might see a position at Planned Parenthood highly unlikely for an ex-professional wrestler and two-time golden glove boxing champion, but that’s because they don’t know Jeff Pier, Rape Crisis Service Program Manager at Planned Parenthood of the Rochester/Syracuse Region.

Since 2010, Jeff has been working his hardest to make sure that Rape Crisis Service is the place people know they can go to. (So in the words of Notorious B.I.G., “if ya don’t know, now ya know.”)

With five counties in the program- Monroe, Orleans, Genesee, Livingston and Wyoming- Rape Crisis Service is the biggest sexual assault service program in the state. Whether he’s grant writing, working on re-branding or fundraising after-hours, Jeff Pier, father of a four-year old daughter and loving husband, works diligently to assure that the services that Rape Crisis provides are seamless.

I have to admit, the first time I heard that a man- not to mention one who still looks like he used to be a wrestler- was in charge of Rape Crisis Service at PPRSR, it was a bit shocking. That’s because of gender stereotyping. This happens in society every day when it comes to victims of sexual assault, and Jeff realizes that it’s a serious problem.

Always giving it to people straight, Jeff tells me “it’s not like a Lifetime movie,” a common misconception portrayed by the media. Sexual assault should never be taken lightly, but the process of coping with and/or coming forward about a sexual assault can be very difficult, sometimes even a “long, daunting process,” Jeff said.

That’s why trained counselors are available 24-hours a day, seven days a week to provide information and support. “My job is to make sure our clients are treated appropriately” he tells me, stating that Rape Crisis Service is here to make the system easier, not more complex. I know this must be true, because talking to Jeff himself was a very easy, natural experience. The other employees representing Rape Crisis Service are no different, making it ultimately a warm and welcoming place.

Still, it’s not just Jeff and the other employees at Rape Crisis Service that dedicate their lives to helping victims of sexual assault. Volunteers are always needed and are an integral part of how the program functions: without them, there would be no 24-hour crisis hotline. “The hardest thing to do is come forward,” Jeff tells me. “When women (or men) can tell their story, only then can we battle the violence against them.”

* If volunteering with Rape Crisis Service is something that interests you, please do not hesitate to visit www.pprsr.org for more information.

Marketing Intern

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