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Probation officer honored for helping victims of violence

Andy Ypma is someone who just gets it. According to McLeod Alliance for Victims of Domestic Violence Legal Advocate Jill Barrall, that is one of the highest compliments an advocate can give to a community ally.
“He understands domestic violence,” Barrall said. “And he wants to see people safe.”
In addition to her praise, Ypma, a McLeod County probation officer, also received the Community Ally Inspire Award from the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women. The Inspire Award is a statewide award that recognizes professionals that serve as allies to the domestic violence cause.
Barrall and her coworkers nominated Ypma for the award because of the dedication Ypma shows in collaborating with the McLeod Alliance.
“Andy is someone who’s always been there. He’s always been really supportive of our agency,” Barrall said.
Ypma has been working in the probation office for 41 years. His relationship with the alliance began shortly after it opened in 1992.
“We are so privileged in this county to have the McLeod Alliance that provides information and so on to these victims,” he said. “I went and visited with them with a desire to have a cooperation, a collaboration, a place where I can send some of the individuals for that kind of help and assistance.”
The relationship between Ypma and the alliance helps Barrall and her coworkers get in touch with the people who need their help. Barrall said Ypma leads domestic violence survivors to the alliance and provides a link to people who she and other advocates might not have been able to find on their own.
“If he encounters people and listens to their story, he’ll call us up,” she said. “We just really appreciate that because we’ll take any avenue that we can get to someone to be able to help them.”
As a long-standing member of the community, Barrall said people trust Ypma’s support of the alliance.
“Andy will say, ‘These ladies are wonderful; I trust them,’” Barrall said. “Coming from him, to somebody who’s in the system and may not trust people and aren’t really sure who they can talk to, that’s like the best word of mouth advertising.”
All in all, the recommendation was about Ypma’s heart.
“He’s got the biggest heart. He cares so much,” Barrall said. “The one thing that’s never waivered is Andy treats people like they’re human beings.”

For more, see the Oct. 28 print edition of The Chronicle.