From Stuffed Envelopes to Emergency Calls
How and Why I volunteer at Women's Center of RI
By Delrita Butler
To be quite honest, I didn't have a background that I believed qualified me to help women in distress. But the time had come for me to stretch myself and do more for our world community. You see, I truly believe that every contribution brings us one step closer to healing our planet – a planet where, in all corners, battered women are raising our children.
As a culture we can't survive without our mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends, but we know that those same people are often the victims of abuse. So knowing that women are the glue in the lives of families, decision makers, politicians and healers, I wanted to help strengthen them. That is the reason I ended up at the Women's Center of Rhode Island (WCRI) – an organization that offers a safe place to make new choices with support, counseling and people who genuinely care.
A New Beginning, Slow and Steady
I started by giving my time doing what I was comfortable doing. I know that women who have suffered abuse need our support and alternative ways to end the cycle of domestic violence, but I started by making phone calls, stuffing envelopes and handing out informative brochures. I also collected used cell phones and participated in community outreach programs. I even cleaned out a donation closet and took inventory of needed clothing. It was easy, I was within my comfort zone, and I felt good about it.
Soon, I was asked to step up and participate by answering the WCRI 24 hour helpline.
Jumping in, Anxiety and All
Answering the helpline felt like more of a commitment and made me feel a little anxious. I didn't have any counseling skills and I wasn't sure I was capable of talking to women in distress. Still, I agreed to take the training and I am so glad I did!
The helpline training was very comprehensive, for it was structured to give participants written support materials, lectures, and role-playing exercises. The sessions also consisted of remarks from women and discussions with them that included first-hand accounts detailing the ordeals they had personally overcome to successfully transform their lives. Though painful to listen to, their struggles and courageous attitudes gave me hope.
After my training I was assigned a partner to shadow me while I spoke to the women on the phone; someone literally had my back! With someone sitting next to me and picking up the phone if I got in a jam, I felt assured. I would learn at my own pace and not worry about making mistakes that might hurt the caller.
Meet a Happy and Healthy Volunteer and Join Me
Well, I am now answering the helpline independently, and I feel like I have found the best of the volunteer experiences. Plus, I hadn't counted on the transformation I would undergo; yet I get to change the world one person at a time and grow exponentially! I work with caring, insightful, intelligent people who want the best for the women involved in abusive relationships – and the best for me, a volunteer. If you are interested in improving the lives of others while growing personally, I encourage you to contact the Women's Center of Rhode Island to inquire about volunteer opportunities. Tell them Delrita sent you.
Meet volunteers and staff members from the Women's Center of Rhode Island at their two upcoming Domestic Violence Awareness Month events or contact them by phone at 401-861-2761:
- Wednesday, October 24, 2012 – The Women's Center of RI presents Byron Hurts' film "Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes" at the MET School Black Box Theater, 325 Public Street, Providence, RI. Doors open at 6pm; film to begin at 6:30pm, followed by a panel and community discussion.
- Sunday, October 28, 2012 – "STOMP Out Domestic Violence" Fashion Show II at Fete Music, 103 Dike Street, Providence, RI. Organized by the Empowerment Movement to benefit the Women's Center of Rhode Island, doors open at 2pm and the show begins at 3pm.
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