Every month, Sarah’s Inn nominates a volunteer to be our Volunteer of The Month. Claudia Hindo was nominated as May’s Volunteer of The Month. Claudia joined the Sarah’s Inn team in November 2020. Our Volunteer and In-Kind Coordinator, Mariam, asked Claudia 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 with Sarah’s Inn since November of 2020. I heard about Sarah’s Inn through VolunteerMatch. I went to the website and saw all of the amazing services Sarah’s Inn provides and knew I wanted to volunteer with this community.”
- What have you enjoyed about volunteering with Sarah’s Inn?
“My career has focused on research, data analysis, and evaluation, which is rewarding in itself but I do not always get to see the direct impact of my work. Although I don’t get to see the person on the other line when I’m on the crisis line, I am still trying to make a human connection with someone who needs it and make some sort of an impact.
I had previously volunteered at other agencies such as helping with donation inventory, which was much needed, but at Sarah’s Inn, I make that connection with someone to do my best to be a listening ear and a source of information and resources for someone in need.
I loved that I received training in this work with experts and was given resources and the support I needed to be an impactful volunteer. While there is still much to learn and practice, being given the chance to make a connection with clients and other callers who just need an empathetic ear and voice is a profound opportunity.”
- Every month, you take on multiple crisis line shifts. How do you find ways to fit volunteering into your schedule?
“I have small kids but I want them to see that acts of service don’t need to fit with your schedule -- it should be something that is part of what you just do. I’m not minimizing the juggling that needs to happen to balance responsibilities with family and work; I do my best to integrate volunteering with family life so my children see that volunteering is not a burdensome task, but a way to show you care for other people by sharing your time.
Sarah’s Inn makes it easy to work around my responsibilities with flexible shift options, which is how I can take a weekend evening shift, for example, so I can still spend time with my family but excuse myself when I get a call. The commitment is not overwhelming -- I was actually surprised that the commitment is only two shifts a month. The flexibility with the time and day options definitely contributed to my decision to reach out about volunteer opportunities. I am lucky that it is a volunteer opportunity that can be done at home - that’s definitely influenced my ability to be a crisis line volunteer. Volunteering while my family is around also shows them that I take my volunteering with the crisis line seriously.”
- What made you want to volunteer at a Domestic Violence Agency?
“In college, I had a bit of exposure with a previous volunteer experience doing donation inventory. The room in which I worked was next door to a discussion circle that occurred on Friday evenings. The women who attended spoke about their personal experiences as domestic violence victims. While I knew that my tasks at this center were useful, the stories those women shared were heart-breaking and I knew I wanted to volunteer in a more direct way. However, without a formal degree in counseling, I didn’t feel like there was anything I could really do to directly support these communities. When I saw this opportunity with Sarah’s Inn, I knew I had to learn more about it.
And, on a personal level, as a woman, a child of immigrant parents whose countries have histories with violence towards women, and having read so many stories and the statistics about the rise of domestic violence during the pandemic, I felt that I had a responsibility to do something. Again, I wanted to be able to make a human connection with those affected by domestic violence to let them know that there were people out there who wanted to hear their voice and listen to their stories that needed to be told.”
- 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?
“It is a way to show your gratitude for those who may not be as fortunate as you. While direct work may not be possible for some people, finding other ways to share your expertise, skills, and other resources to improve the lives of others should be something that people naturally want to do.”
- Why should people volunteer at Sarah’s Inn?
“Everyone from the trainer to the Volunteer and In-Kind Coordinator work with the volunteers to make sure that they are comfortable. If there is a call on the crisis line that you need support with, a staff member is there to help. The training was so helpful and being given resources and information to assist when with our client interactions is invaluable. Again, the commitment is not overwhelming and options for shifts are flexible. I can see that Sarah’s Inn is building a community for volunteers -- e.g. monthly meetings, (Not A Book) Book Club, emails announcing other volunteering opportunities.”
Thank you Claudia 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.