Sarah’s Inn is Kicking off our first Volunteer of the Month blog with our Volunteer Lynn Ellis as part of National Volunteer Month. Lynn joined the Sarah’s Inn team in November of 2020. Our Volunteer and In-Kind Coordinator, Mariam, asked Lynn about her experiences as a volunteer.
- How long have you been volunteering with us, and how did you hear about Sarah’s Inn?
“I have been volunteering since November 2020. I heard about Sarah's Inn about 15 years ago from an organization I used to work for when we were doing a fundraiser. As a team, we decided that we were interested in domestic violence work. Sarah's Inn was an organization close by and that is when I learned about the agency.”
- What have you enjoyed about volunteering with Sarah’s Inn?
“What I love about volunteering at Sarah’s Inn is that every client, every person working at the organization has something to offer. I learned from my teammates about resiliency; courage from our clients. To pick up the phone and reach out to a stranger is so courageous. The fact that we have people that trust us and call, I feel so special to take that call. Our clients are wonderful human beings. It takes a lot of courage to do what they are doing. It takes alot to ask for help and they are doing that.
How cool is it that we have the power to stand up and believe them. We get to remind callers that they have value no matter what anyone has said; what happened to someone does not define them. They are more than what the world would ever think of them. We are available all the time - this line that they call is a life line. I feel like I am on a team of superheroes!”
- What made you want to volunteer at a Domestic Violence Agency?
“My mom was extremely passionate about human rights. For her, human rights centered on the empowerment of women especially when it came to the challenges and barriers to having autonomy. I grew up with an expectation of having rights not just as a citizen but having autonomy and rights within my home. The basic line of ‘I am a person that should be treated with dignity and not harmed or abused,’ are very real concepts in my family.
Domestic issues don’t just affect women, they affect families, nutrition, finances, food scarcity, drug abuse, mental health, etc. It is not a relationship issue, it is about power. That is what domestic issues are centered around; exerting that power. It is not good for the state, it is not good for the country, it is not good for homes. That is one of the things that I am grateful for; Sarah’s Inn has PAIP (Partner Abuse Intervention Program) classes. They know it's about the other person who is perpetrating needing to make better choices and changing those behaviors. We cannot look at one side and think there will be change. Sarah’s Inn understands that work needs to be done on both sides.”
- Some people may find it difficult to balance working, volunteering and their personal lives. Why do you think it is important for folks to find the time to volunteer?
“I don't imagine a world of just working; being in a bubble and shutting out the outside world. Volunteering is something that I believe is a civic duty. It is a way I can support a cause and get to choose where I want to go. I think people should find something that they believe in, outside of those things that are obligations, a place that they feel good about that they know on the back end helps people that they don’t know. It's a privilege to be able to volunteer. There are people fighting for housing, clean water; they are fighting for what we have. Since we have it, we need to make sure it is there and the best for everyone.
Volunteering builds empathy and teaches us that everyone has a story. We should pay to volunteer because the feeling you get from it is super amazing. It is an amazing feeling of connectedness and purpose.”
- Why should people volunteer at Sarah’s Inn?
“Sarah’s Inn has an amazingly deep and wide reaching network of resources. It means, Sarah’s Inn has had a reputation that has been intact with hospitals, clergy, police, and neighbors for over 40 years. There are schools, hospitals and government institutions that closed their doors in 40 years and here is Sarah’s Inn - expanding; making sure they are partnering with businesses and getting out there in the community. Many people call us from a referral they received from the community. That is an amazing testimony! Sarah’s Inn has built a community of survivors and trusted allies for our clients. They understand this is not a competition. If we feel like we don't have the resources, we will refer to someone who does.
If you are looking to support families and communities with issues of domestic violence, Sarah’s Inn is the place to be for that because it will give you a wide scope of information, knowledge and resources. They support everybody - everyone gets the same access and gets what they are looking for. People come as they are without any barriers for race, religion, sexual orientation, or language they speak.
That is why folks should volunteer here. Their time and energy will be appreciated and well spent. Sarah’s Inn puts so much energy and time - I don't know any organization that spends so much energy on a volunteer. They treat volunteering like it is a job by conducting interviews and training volunteers to make sure they have the best people.
Thank you Lynn for volunteering with Sarah’s Inn. If you are interested in volunteering, the best way to get involved is by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, where you will be able to learn more about volunteering opportunities that are available to you.