“No more, because we SASO.” In 1977 the Sexual Assault Services Organization was established by a handful of volunteers frustrated with the difficulties encountered by individuals seeking assistance for sexual assaults. Today, SASO has expanded its services to the Durango community in a major way: in 2021 SASO served 228 individuals, providing 1,255 services and 901 contacts, and answering 1,286 crisis calls via their 24/7 hotline. SASO serves all genders, and their services are available for everyone, including those who are under the age of eighteen.
Durango Magazine spoke with Laura Latimer, executive director of SASO, and it’s clear the organization is passionate about supporting individuals in the Durango community. Just last year, SASO grew their long partnership with Fort Lewis College’s Counseling Center, offering a confidential resource for students by opening the Phoenix Center in conjunction with Alternative Horizons. Their services also extend to prevention education and cultural outreach, including partnering with La Plata Youth Services to provide outreach in schools, offering free, confidential support groups, and hosting a workshop series that focuses on holistic healing and advocacy. SASO is also working on programming with The Durango Police Department and Project Angel Shot to promote safety in bars and provide support for individuals who might need assistance from bar or restaurant staff. “We want to be talking about healthy relationships, consent, body integrity, and bystander intervention. Offering prevention education keeps assaults from happening,” Latimer said. “Community outreach is a huge part of what we do.”
In addition to their programming, SASO hosts several
community events and fundraisers including:
- Human trafficking programming
- Light Up the Night Glow Run (sponsored by Fort Lewis College and The Title X1 Office)
- Resilience Art Show at the Fort Lewis College Art Gallery
- Cultural Crafting
- Denim Day
- Specialty nights at local restaurants where a portion of the proceeds go directly to SASO
Traditionally SASO’s main fundraiser is the annual Chef Showcase, in which they partner with local chef and wine distributors for an evening of fine dining. After a two-year hiatus Chef Showcase is returning, slated November 3rd. “It’s an incredible event that brings the Durango community together to support SASO’s cause against sexual violence.”
SASO is honored to provide these valuable resources to promote a safer and healthier Durango. They are grateful to the Durango community for its support and for the numerous donations and volunteers that continue to amplify this wonderful resource. For more information on programming or how to get involved, visit durangosaso.org.