It is National Volunteer Month! We’d like to take a moment to say THANK YOU to our Volunteers for everything they do for our organization!
Over the past year at the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center, our volunteers have donated approximately 15,000 hours of time to the Center, which equates to the efforts of seven full-time staff members. These volunteers do incredibly valuable work in our community and help individuals experiencing domestic violence. Our volunteer opportunities range from serving on our board of directors, to providing legal and financial assistance to survivors, to assisting with our prevention programs, fundraisers and office tasks.
Our volunteer program currently consists of 90 volunteers, half of whom have completed our 25-hour Domestic Violence Advocacy Training, which is a requirement to work directly with domestic abuse survivors or their children. Trained volunteers are often the first contact a survivor has with the Center and are integral to the process of engaging and guiding clients on their journey toward help and healing. Each day our volunteers are available to help victims coming into the Newburyport District Court, providing support during a time that is often very emotional and stressful.
Our volunteers are available to answer the hotline after hours–often in the middle of the night–providing education and support to survivors, their family and their friends. Volunteers go to police stations, often on a moment’s notice, to assist with emergency restraining orders and to provide calming encouragement and support after an incident of domestic violence. We also have volunteers who provide childcare while a parent or guardian is receiving clinical or legal services in our office. They are providing a safe and healthy environment for those children and their families, allowing them to receive the help they need to heal and move forward with their lives.
Elena Russo, a Newburyport resident for the past 12 years, is one of the compassionate volunteers at the Center. She came to the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center six years ago looking to support our work in any way she could. After completing her training in 2013, she began working as a court advocate, answering the hotline and going out to local police stations to assist victims of abuse. Elena says she feels inspired by the strength of the people she stands beside in court, as it often takes an enormous amount of courage and support for victims to seek legal help.
“As hard as it is, I leave with a real sense of calm. It is eye opening to see how supportive all the members of the court system are. I am so impressed with how everyone is on board to help. It has been really rewarding and fulfilling. I have such appreciation and respect for what victims are going through. I don’t do the work—they do.”
Elena has incredible insight and instincts when guiding others, and she works hard to continually develop her knowledge and skills through attending monthly meetings and various trainings on domestic violence. She is encouraged by how well we’re doing as a community, but also finds it hard to observe that after six years of volunteering, there are still so many people in need of help. Elena’s 13-year-old daughter is also involved with the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center as a member of the Girls Inc. Advisory Group.
Another volunteer who is integral to supporting our work is Hannah Durkee. Hannah is 19 years old and is majoring in Engineering at Smith College. An engineer to the core, Hannah attends MIT camps in the summer.
Hannah has volunteered with Girls Inc. of the Seacoast Area and has provided programming during our school and summer vacation programs. Hannah has also played a key role in our summer camp over the past four years, leading the STEAM activities. She feels strongly that her time is best served with an organization that works with girls. She’s right! Hannah has fit right in and all the girls she has mentored love her!
“Working with the girls and helping the facilitators with activities has been an incredible experience for me. I love talking to the girls about future careers in STEAM, and this has truly been an amazing opportunity. Volunteering with Girls Inc. of the Seacoast Area has been rewarding because it has allowed me to see the immediate positive impact on the girls.”
If you would like to volunteer, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Heather Wiles, at 978-465-0999 or email@example.com.