Every month, Sarah’s Inn nominates a volunteer to be our Volunteer of the Month. Valerie Achterhof was nominated as January’s Volunteer of the Month. Valerie joined the Sarah’s Inn team in August 2015. Our Volunteer and In-Kind Coordinator, Mariam, asked Valerie 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 volunteering in 2015. I heard about Sarah’s Inn from my Sociology professor, K. DelDebbio, who was a volunteer with Sarah’s Inn and mentioned her volunteer work so I signed up for the training.”

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

“I like connecting with our clients; even though you don’t connect in a long term way, it is nice to know that someone (clients) have the option to reach out to someone. It is also easier to stick with this (crisis line) long term since it is remote and you don't have to worry about transportation to get somewhere.”

  1. Every month, you take on a few regular shifts. How do you find ways to fit volunteering into your schedule?

“I volunteer on Saturday and found that I have an easier time remembering my commitments since it is every Saturday at the same time. I don't have anything that extends during my shifts and make sure not to schedule anything during that time. I have found ways to work my schedule around the crisis line, since I have been doing it for a long time. The shifts on the crisis line are also short and anyone can fit it into their schedule.”

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

“I witnessed domestic violence and wanted to be able to process things that I witnessed along with being there for others. Sarah’s Inn is very clear that it is the victim or survivors choice to be able to leave or stay. They understand all of that on a deeper level.”

  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 am interested in labor economics and the way we trade our time for numbers. There are assumptions about how our economy works. We can see market failure in different jobs like teaching where there is an imbalance between how we really value something versus how much we demonstrate value. In theory, teachers are valuable to society and have a great impact but are underpaid. Volunteering addresses those market failures and puts a bandaid in that gap. It is like this, doing something that you enjoy but not paid for, however it is absolutely necessary and society would not function without volunteers. We can’t get the change we want to see without doing the work. Volunteering is rewarding, you are doing something that connects with your soul and putting in a little time a week that brings you back to humanity.”

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

“Volunteering helps with keeping our society functioning and Sarah’s Inn is not just addressing economic issues, they are also addressing social issues, sexism, etc. Domestic Violence is not given enough attention and it is a prevalent issue in our society. A lot of organizations are doing great work with victim services, but Sarah’s Inn is a great organization that takes a top view. They don't just help victims/survivors, they also try to get to the root of the issue like with their PAIP program.” 

Thank you Valerie 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.