Every month, Sarah’s Inn nominates a volunteer to be our Volunteer of The Month. Renee Miedlar was nominated as December’s Volunteer of The Month. Renee joined the Sarah’s Inn team in November 2021. Our Volunteer and In-Kind Coordinator, Mariam, asked Renee about her experiences as a volunteer.

  1. How long have you been volunteering with us, and how did you hear about Sarah’s Inn?

“I started in November of 2021 right after the 40-hour training. I heard about the organization from doing research on community based institutions within the area. I saw the agency’s positive reviews; it was nice to see that Sarah’s Inn employees and volunteers are doing great work in the community and have great reviews by community members and employees.”

  1. What have you enjoyed about volunteering with Sarah’s Inn?

“I love how each time I volunteer, the employees are super kind, they care about the work they are doing and it makes me happy and excited to be there. I enjoy working with like-minded individuals. To be able to work with an organization that constantly shows up for their clients is amazing. I also enjoy how there are so many different volunteering opportunities such as child-care, crisis line, and community-based events; the crisis line is flexible and I like how there is an option to do it remotely. I also like how there are in-person and virtual options for volunteering. I volunteered at the Holiday Gift Project event. It was so amazing how well planned and thought out the event was. I am excited to be involved with more.”

  1. Every month, you take on multiple crisis line shifts. How do you find ways to fit volunteering into your schedule?

“The nice thing about the crisis line is that you are able to do it remotely on your phone. I usually have some type of self-care activity for home planned such as watching a movie, crafting, or reading, but I make sure it’s flexible so if I need to stop what I am doing to answer a call, I can. Overnight shifts help as well, for me, I really don’t mind them. I can work during the day and still volunteer. I do think since I have free time, it’s important to utilize that time to volunteer and give back to the community.”

  1. What made you want to volunteer at a Domestic Violence Agency?

“It’s two-fold for me because volunteering at a domestic violence organization has a personal aspect to it and has a societal context that I feel passionate about. On the more personal end, I unfortunately have first hand experience with loved ones who have been victims of domestic violence. The other reason is because violence against cis-gendered women, non-binary and trans-individuals is a systemic issue. When I saw what Sarah’s Inn was doing, it sparked my interest. That is something I enjoyed about the 40-hour Domestic Violence training, talking about how DV isn’t just an individual person’s experience, but is a systemic issue. It is very important to me to be able to feel like I am helping mitigate gender based violence.”

  1. 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 think that everyone has time to volunteer. Unfortunately, people who are working multiple jobs to support their families may not be able to volunteer. My biggest thing is to encourage anyone who has the time to spare, because it’s incredibly meaningful work. Volunteering gives people the opportunity to learn more about these issues. Not only are you giving back, but you are learning something. It might be hard for some people to find time for the 40-hour training but afterwards, 3 crisis-line shifts a month is very reasonable.

I found that volunteering not only makes me feel like I’m giving back to others, but that I’m giving back to myself. I really think on an emotional and spiritual level that volunteering is extremely fulfilling. It’s a powerful feeling, doing something without expecting anything in return. I really believe volunteering can be a form of self care and making it a part of your routine is important. Sarah’s Inn makes it easy to find something since they offer lots of opportunities which are very flexible.”

  1. Why should people volunteer at Sarah’s Inn?

“Like I had previously mentioned, the people I have met through Sarah’s Inn, volunteers and employees, create a well rounded experience and go out of their way to get to know me on a personal level . You want people who have a strong sense of purpose for what they are doing. I always look forward to coming into the office and seeing people and catching up. There is always a sense of community and camaraderie; I don't think you get that from every place you volunteer. There are also many different opportunities to volunteer, you can do a variety of different community-based engagements. Having different opportunities can help you find your niche and be able to test the waters of what you feel passionate about within the organization. Other places I have  volunteered with, have only offered a single volunteer opportunity. 

It’s amazing to see the work that is being done. I love the different facets of the organization; Prevention and the material that’s being used in high schools is innovative and extremely fundamental to preventing DV. I didn't have anybody from a DV organization speak at my high school and I think that it’s fantastic work. Additionally, the legal system is a very daunting institution, and the legal advocacy work being done at Sarah’s Inn really helps individuals navigate a tricky system. Also, PAIP is an important piece to the puzzle, educating people who have perpetrated violence and aim to unlearn their reductive behavior.”

Thank you Renee for volunteering with Sarah’s Inn. If you are interested in volunteering, the best way to get involved is by emailing volunteering@sarahsinn.org, where you will be able to learn more about volunteering opportunities that are available to you.