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Making a Difference: Woman receives state award for helping victims of crime

For more than 20 years, Tracey Cook has listened, guided and shown a caring heart for hundreds of people at Victim Services -- a job that many feel is a tough one. (WJAC)

JOHNSTOWN -- For more than 20 years, Tracey Cook has listened, guided and shown a caring heart for hundreds of people at Victim Services -- a job that many feel is a tough one.

"I think a lot of people think that. It can be awful to have to hear about the bad things every day, but it's so rewarding to be in our positions," said Cook, 2017 Governor’s Pathfinder Award Recipient.

Cook's positions include crime victims compensation coordinator and Somerset County's sexual assault response team coordinator. She's also a certified trauma practitioner and a homicide and sexual assault intervention specialist.

"I’ve done a lot of work across the state as well, what needs done. And there's always something you want to do and achieve," Cook said.

"She helps us figure out how to best serve the clients we work with," clinical supervisor Erika Brosig said.

Brosig has worked with Tracey at Victim Services since 2003. She nominated her for a very prestigious award that honors those who help victims of crime.

"She's been in this field for so long and has contributed so much. There is no one worthy of recognition more than her," Brosig said.

That recognition came at a state-wide conference in Hershey in May. Tracey received the 2017 Governor's Pathfinder Award.

"I was really blown away when I found out that I won, because I was never really expecting that," Cook said.

"Empowered me to keep going on in my life," Cook’s client, Barbara Purbaugh, said.

Barbara Purbaugh first met Cook in 1999 when she was a client. She says Tracey saved her life all those years ago.

It's why she, too, nominated her.

"Hearing these horrible stories, dealing with people like me who were hysterical, suicidal, that has to wear on you. You know what she says to me? I love my job. That's all she says to me. I think that's phenomenal," Purbaugh said.

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