Annual luncheon celebrates awardees for their service to crime victims and witnesses
PHILADELPHIA (April 15, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams and the Philadelphia Coalition for Victim Advocacy (PCVA) today held their annual luncheon and award ceremony in commemoration of National Crime Victim’s Rights Week (NCVRW). U.S. Senator Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania received the Legislative Award for his successful fight to release billions of dollars to the nation’s victim services providers from the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) fund. Money in this fund, solely sourced by fines paid by federal offenders, had been sitting for years in a federal account and not serving its congressional purpose – assisting crime victims.
“Senator Toomey, thank you for championing the legislation that kept the Victims of Crime Act funds properly flowing to our victim serving agencies and for doing all that you do to protect our youth who are the victims of crime,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “I am also proud to give a special congratulations to ADA Andrew Notaristefano for his consistent drive for excellence and unending professionalism in the courtroom. Andrew’s tireless efforts to help victims in this City is truly admirable. To Senator Toomey, ADA Notaristefano and to all of today’s awardees, you have my thanks and unending gratitude for what you have done.”
In addition to releasing billions of dollars to the VOCA Fund, Sen. Toomey introduced the Fairness for Crime Victims Act, which will make his reforms to the VOCA Fund permanent, and introduced legislation, which became law in 2015, that makes it illegal for school districts to assist known pedophiles in obtaining a job. He also fought to increase prison terms and penalties for human trafficking, child pornography, child prostitution and sexual exploitation of children. The other public servants honored at the ceremony were:
Andrew Notaristefano, Assistant District Attorney – Lynne Abraham Prosecutor Award – was recognized for his work in the courtroom and beyond. His passion for helping others, he received a previous Lynne Abraham Award after graduating law school in 2006, drives him. ADA Notaristefano tried and convicted Margarita Garabito of First Degree Murder for torturing her 10-year-old step-daughter to death and tried and convicted Rudolph McGriff, one of the City’s most notorious mass murders, of First Degree Murder last year. To date, ADA Notaristefano has received 32 murder convictions by trial in the last four years.
Jamie Manirakiza, Director of Anti-Human Trafficking for the Salvation Army – Catherine Bachrach Victim Advocate Award – is a tireless advocate in the fight against human trafficking in the City of Philadelphia. Manirakiza has dedicated her life to working with traumatized women involved in the commercial sex industry at the New Day Drop-in Center for Women in Kensington. She often accompanies victims to Family Court and teaches an introductory Women’s Studies course at Eastern University that concentrates on sex trafficking.
Dr. Mariza DiGiorgio McColgan, M.D., MSEd, FAAP – Health Care Professional Award – spearheaded several advocacy projects including the Children’s and Mom’s Project (CAMP), a successful pediatric domestic violence screening project, and the Family Safe Zone project, a pilot program to increase community protections to prevent child maltreatment. Dr. DiGiorgio McColgan is the Medical Director of the Child Protection Program at Philadelphia’s St. Christopher Hospital for Children; an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine at Drexel University’s College of Medicine; and a Founding Advisor, Board Chair and Pediatric Advisor of Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania.
Lynn Shiner, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (retired) – Special Recognition Award & Voice of the Victim – was celebrated for the 21 years of passion she brought to helping the victims of crime. Shiner began working for the Commission after she experienced a tragedy of her own, her two young children were murdered on Christmas Day in 1994. Shiner is also an award-winning author and was presented with the National Crime Victim Service Award by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. In 2014, she was presented with the Visionary Voice Award by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
PCVA, which is dedicated to promoting the rights of and advocating for crime victims, began in 1980 as the Philadelphia Crime and the Elderly Coalition. The Organization changed their name to the Philadelphia Coalition for Victim Advocacy in 1983 to better reflect the people they serve. The annual luncheon is held during National Crime Victim’s Rights Week to honor those who have made significant contributions in addressing or advocating for the needs of crime victims.