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Lisa Thompson-Heth

2015 National Crime Victim Service Award | National Crime Victims’ Service Awards
Watch the tribute video

Lisa Thompson-Heth | National Crime Victim Service Award
Wiconi Wawokiya, Inc.
Fort Thompson, South Dakota

It has been Lisa Heth’s life work to serve victims of crime, and she led efforts to establish a multidisciplinary complex of victim services buildings to provide comprehensive services to those in need. 

Ms. Heth is the Executive Director for the Wiconi Wawokiya, Inc. shelter, also known as Project SAFE, on the Crow Creek Sioux Indian Reservation in central South Dakota. Wiconi Wawokiya means “Helping Families” and this is precisely what Ms. Heth does. As the Executive Director of the nonprofit shelter for women who are battered or abused and their children, she has been instrumental and invaluable in securing funding for the shelter. 

Since 1985 the shelter provides 24/7 safe housing as well as social services to victims of sexual assault and child abuse. Under the direction of Ms. Heth, the project has received funding through grants on local, state, and federal levels and provides services to a large rural area including the Crow Creek and Lower Brule Indian Reservations. 

She has established a multidisciplinary complex of victim services buildings, which includes a battered women’s shelter; a building that is set up for forensic and physical interviews and exams for adult and child victims along with a child advocacy center; a building that stores donations ranging from food, clothing, personal care items, and furniture; and a building with computers set up for crime victims to search for jobs and take classes online to facilitate in restoring their financial independence and relocation when necessary. 

In addition to these services located on the Crow Creek Reservation, Wiconi Wawokiya has a satellite shelter, Mita Maske Ti Ki, in Sioux Falls, the largest city in the state. Mita Maske Ti Ki is the only shelter in Sioux Falls offering culturally sensitive services to American Indians. 

For the last 4 years the organization has set up a concession stand and awareness booth at the Annual Crow Creek Wacipi (powwow) where staff and volunteers donate their time to raise money for victims and provide community awareness. Also silent witnesses–which are cut out silhouettes that represent actual victims who have died due to domestic violence–are carried in by native dancers to increase awareness on their reservation.

2015 National Crime Victims' Service Awards Tribute Video

Watch this video to learn more about Lisa Thompson-Heth, 2015 recipient of the National Crime Victim Service Award.