At FVPC we provide a variety of different sources to all of Orange County to help prevent domestic violence. With only four full time staff members we rely a great deal on help from our incredible volunteers to assist with hotline shifts, community education, and child care. This month we are focusing on one of our student volunteers Lindsey Needham to hear about her experience volunteering at FVPC–
Q. How long have you been volunteering?
“I completed FVPC’s volunteer training as a lowly sophomore almost two years ago in the spring of 2009. Since completing the training, I have mainly done work on the crisis line during the daytime. When my schedule was not conducive for daytime work, I started volunteering with childcare for the drop-in support group. Last spring, I had the opportunity to participate in FVPC’s ten-week support group program at Project Homestart, which also created a coping skills curriculum for children. Leading a bunch of rambunctious, hyper kids was quite the endeavor, but it was certainly a rewarding experience. This year I have focused primarily on serving as a daytime hotline advocate.”
Q. How did you learn about FVPC?
“I was completely ignorant of FVPC’s existence until I expressed a desire to become more involved outside of the campus atmosphere and in the surrounding Chapel Hill community. Through the Triangle United Way, I discovered this wonderful agency and sought to help the cause in any way I could. After partaking in the volunteer training, there was no looking back; I was hooked.”
Q. Why do you volunteer?
“I was primarily attracted to FVPC because of my personal experience with violence in the home. Despite my tumultuous childhood, I feel like I have overcome these traumatic experiences and wanted to give back to a community from which I came. I watched my mother struggle for years to leave an abusive relationship, and I was motivated to empower other women who are in similar situations.”
Q. What have you learned (about yourself or others) by volunteering here?
“Though I always considered myself a good listener, volunteering at FVPC has undeniably enhanced my active listening abilities. This has had a positive effect on my personal relationships and in general conversations about difficult topics. Instead of using accusatory language or strongly encouraging people to do what I think is best, I always strive to be a tool for the speaker to make the best decision for him or her.”
Q. What happens next for you (after graduation)?
“Graduation is rapidly and terrifyingly approaching, but my experience with FVPC has encouraged me to take a year or two off to devote to service. For next year, I have actively sought opportunities in fighting education inequity within low-income communities and in promoting equality for women and other less privileged groups. My studies of political science and philosophy at UNC as well as my volunteer experience with these social inequalities will be advantageous in my professional pursuits. Though my long-term goal is law school, I think graduation presents a special opportunity to wholly devote myself to these social causes before being bogged down with a career and other responsibilities.”
Q. What would you tell prospective volunteers?
“In giving advice to prospective volunteers, I would emphasize your importance to FVPC as a volunteer and how seriously you must take that role. Volunteering is unique at FVPC in that your service places you on the front line of addressing domestic violence; the organization gives you incredible responsibility in representing the agency to first-time callers and in interacting with clients one-on-one. This is not the typical volunteer opportunity in which you mindlessly fill boxes with food or clean cat cages. These are real people who want real help from you, so the tasks require the skills to problem-solve and think independently. That being said, the full-time staff is a helpful resource with an abundance of knowledge, and the impact you will make in the lives of survivors is an unmatched experience. It is an incredibly rewarding and valuable opportunity, but you must devote the time and energy to reap the benefits.”