Volunteer advocates change lives.
Volunteers are the backbone of Community Safety Network, providing advocacy, support and a listening ear 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our advocates reflect the fabric of our community; they are men and women; they are professionals and retirees. Prior experience is not required; the only prerequisites are compassion and a desire to make a difference.
Volunteering begins with a free 40-hour training course, offered several times a year. Comprehensive in scope, the training empowers volunteers to confidently share their knowledge of advocacy and intervention skills relating to domestic violence, sexual assault, incest, stalking and child abuse. Volunteers are well versed in the spectrum of community resources available to clients.
In addition to our advocate program, volunteers fill the vital role of shelter chef. A home-cooked meal makes all the difference for our shelter guests and their children. For more information about shelter chef training, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The profound impact of volunteering is a reciprocal experience, as one advocate describes:
I went on call for the hotline at 5 p.m. that night. Like every other shift I worked as a volunteer for the Community Safety Network, I kept a beeper at my waist as I did laundry, cooked dinner, read the paper and watched TV. I had just fallen asleep when the telephone rang. It was a Help-line call. The police dispatcher asked me to go to St. John’s Medical Center to meet a victim of domestic violence. I hung up, grabbed my purse, notebook and keys, kissed my husband and left. Once there, I met a woman – just a year younger than me – whose drunk boyfriend had become jealous when he saw her talking to another man in the bar. He drove her out of town, pushed her out of a moving vehicle, then stopped and went back to beat her up some more. The woman, who had just moved to Jackson with the boyfriend, had bruises on her face from the blows, bruises shaped like fingers on her neck from strangling, and a sprained wrist from falling out of the car. Since she began dating him, she said, a year earlier, he had scared her once before. At a party, when she asked him to “please slow down” his drinking, he pushed her through a glass patio door and told her not to be so controlling. Now, after the second attack, she understood that her normally sweet boyfriend had a problem. He was abusive, and she knew she could either leave him or go back for more. I listened. I passed her a box of Kleenex. I got her some ice water and a warm blanket. I gave her a hug. I told her she had been very brave. I explained that the employees and volunteers at the Community Safety Network would help her in any way we could. We could offer her a place to stay at the shelter. There, she could rest and discuss her future with other women, many of whom had been through similar struggles. She nodded. She called her mom, and cried some more. Then she lifted her chin, and we went to the shelter. As I drove home, I was emotionally drained. It’s hard to listen to so much pain come out of one person. It’s hard to watch someone cry so hard that they can’t breathe right. It’s hard not to cry yourself. Sometimes I do. But it’s worth it. Volunteering makes me feel good, deep down inside, in a place that’s not satisfied by work, skiing, or shopping for new shoes. As I pulled into my driveway that night, I thought about how nice it was to be in a healthy relationship. I thought about friends and family who had also been abused, years ago. Although I wasn’t able to help them back then, when they were in crisis, I am able to help now. So I do.