Volume 6, Issue 10

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Volunteer Voice
April 2014
Genevieve N. Waller, Esq.
Executive Director
Working with our volunteers is truly what makes me love my job: you’re such an incredible group of people, who all come from such different backgrounds and motivations but are united in a shared goal of ending sexual violence and serving survivors. I feel lucky that I get to see each of you so often and can share my appreciation for everything that you do, but as I brainstormed ways that STSM could recognize National Volunteer Week (April 6-12) I realized that some of our staff don’t have that opportunity. I thought I’d ask for some feedback I could share on social media, but the response was so overwhelming that I felt like you had to see ALL of the wonderful feedback I received. So I’ve grouped together the results of our staff survey: here’s why not just I, but the entire staff of STSM, love our volunteers! -Sarah COMMITTED: Lauren said that she appreciates “how hard our volunteers work and how willing they are to go the extra mile to ensure that our survivors get good care.” Alexis agreed that, “It's amazing to see the sheer amount of hours that volunteers contribute. Their passion for the work they do is always refreshing, and I admire their commitment to the cause-commitment they give over and above the hours they already put into full-time school, work, and other obligations.” Bahiyyih said that, “As a new-comer to STSM, I'm grateful for their skills and willingness to jump right in and help me figure things out. I have been VERY impressed by their knowledge, professionalism, and readiness to help.” UNIQUE: One thing that nearly every staff member mentioned was how unique our volunteers were. Zoe said, “This is a tough population to work with and you really need to be a special person with a unique calling to effectively volunteer with our agency and not get burned out!” Sherry, who previously worked at an agency that did not utilize volunteers, said that she was impressed by “the number of individuals who weren't just voicing their compassion for the issue of sexual violence but demonstrating it through service to the organization and through support and advocacy of the survivors.”
Tammy Szymanski
Office Manager
Mary Dell Hayes
Development Coordinator
Melanie Snipes, LMSW
Director of Crisis Services
Sherry Lewis, MA, LPC
Director of Therapy and Outreach
Kayce Singletary, MSW, MPH
Community Education Director
Sarah Moran Nevarez Lauren Wiest, LPC-I
Advocate Counselor
Volunteer Services Coordinator
Amy Meldau, LMSW Zoe McDowell
Group Services Coordinator
Sexual Assault Services Coordinator
Alexis Stratton, MFA
Prevention Education Coordinator
Bahiyyih Young, Ed.S., NCC
Underserved Survivor Advocacy and Outreach Project Coordinator
Baron O’Neal
Community Advocate and Prevention Specialist (Sumter County)
CONTENTS Staff Contributions for National Volunteer Week Upcoming Events Agency Statistics 1-3 4 4
Continued on pg 2
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PASSIONATE: Melanie was one of many staff to mention the passion volunteers bring, saying “Who else volunteers at 3am?” Amy agreed, “I have been impressed by how much passion and dedication our volunteers have...It's clearly part of who they are, not just something they do for a few hours a week.” Since Bahiyyih joined STSM, she’s learned that, “Our volunteers are reliable, trustworthy, and passionate. They show up when they say that they will, do work that's neither easy nor glamorous, and manage to maintain positive attitudes throughout.” Lauren agreed, saying “it's wonderful that they are willing to sacrifice their time and energy for such important, but not necessarily ‘feel-good’ work.” CREATING CHANGE: Alexis said, “Our volunteers give so much of their ‘selves’ to this organization...This is such a sensitive topic, a lot of people don't like to hear about it, let alone talk about it or do anything about it. Our volunteers don't let that stand in the way.” Sherry also looks forward to the impact our volunteers will have in the future, noting that volunteers who are students, “will now enter their professions with a greater understanding of the impact of sexual violence and continue to be long term advocates.” REACHING OUT: Mary Dell and Sherry both appreciate how volunteers reach out to others and further the fight against sexual violence. Mary Dell said that "Fundraising is especially meaningful when it is led by our volunteers. They see the trauma of sexual violence in their volunteer work and know how important it is that STSM is able to continue our services. It shows how passionately invested our volunteers are in ending sexual violence." Sherry said that’s she’s been impressed by volunteers “who want to give their time because they are simply a part of the community. They take opportunities to share our work with a friend or neighbor, spread the word at their church, empower members of their civic groups, and make advocating contagious!” IMPACTING STAFF: One thing several staff mentioned was the extent of the positive impact volunteers have on staff. Melanie said that it’s “inspiring to myself as a staff member that we have community members who wish to give back.” Ginny said, “The work we do is very hard and at times can feel like we are trying to climb uphill against a head wind. Volunteers in this work have a stronger belief about their ability to change our world than others do. It is awesome to be surrounded by people who KNOW their voice will be heard.” Alexis agreed “it's hard to do the kind of work we do day-in, day-out, but our volunteers help give me energy and remind me of the great work that our agency is doing. I think that's above and beyond their job description, and I always appreciate their ability to remain positive and encouraging.” Ginny, who started volunteering as an advocate and in fundraising, said that when she was a volunteer, “I never thought that I was doing enough. I always thought "how could being available just one night make a real difference for STSM?" But now I see that EVERY shift, EVERY tabling event, EVERY phone call makes a HUGE difference in the agency's ability to achieve its mission.” Baron agreed that “as a former volunteer, I never knew how much goes on behind the scenes. There is enough work for 50 people working 12 hour days. Volunteers play a HUGE role in taking the load off of staff so they can focus on their time and energy for their hired position. Volunteers are vital to our clients but they are even more vital to our staff, who need that down time for self-care and recharging after the week.” Other staff also echoed the vital role our volunteers play in preventing staff burnout and helping staff to maximize the services we can offer. When I asked Ginny what she wouldn’t be able to do without our volunteers, her first response was, “ummm…everything.” Amy expanded on this by saying that, “I wouldn't be able to do my job without our volunteers. They have saved me hours upon hours of work-- whether it's help filing documentation, making group craft supplies, or holding the hand of a survivor in the hospital, my standard of living as a social worker is higher due to volunteers.”
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ADVOCATES: Our crisis and clinical staff noted the vital role advocates play in allowing them to serve survivors in the office. Melanie said, “Due to the volume of hospital calls we receive, there is no possible way that I would be able to do my job effectively without our advocates, as staff would need to accompany survivors to the hospital on a constant basis. Volunteers allow staff to do the work that is needed within the office.” Zoe agreed, “If I had to take every hospital call at night, I would never be able to see clients in the office or do my job at all. Having volunteers take call is an amazing blessing and I hope they know that for every shift they take, I am able to see another client who is in crisis!” Lauren said, “Without being able to practice self-care on the nights and weekends that volunteers are on call, I would never be able to give my best to my daily clients,” and Sherry agreed, “When our volunteer advocates sign up for shifts, this helps me to have the time I need to recharge for the next work day. I can be refreshed and energized for client sessions, or prepared for a meeting or a training, or have time to get other tasks completed. Each time a volunteer responds to a call, they are helping reduce staff burn out and increasing the time we are able to spend on self-care.” Our counselors also see the impact on clients. Amy said, “One time when a volunteer came back from a hospital call, she was talking about her experience with the survivor and I could tell she really cared about the survivor’s well-being. Later on, that client was assigned to me for counseling. It was so neat to hear what a positive, affirming experience she had at the hospital, in spite of the circumstance. She described feeling truly supported from day one of her interactions with STSM, thanks to that volunteer. This was one of the things that helped her feel safe and supported, and to stay committed to counseling throughout the six months.” SPEAKER’S BUREAU: Our Speaker’s Bureau plays a vital role in increasing the number of community events the agency is able to accept, and allowing us to further spread information about sexual assault and our services. Education Director Kayce noted that, “with only 2.5 educators on staff, the number of presentations and events STSM attends would be significantly reduced without Speaker's Bureau volunteers.” Alexis agreed that we couldn’t “reach as many people as we do at health fairs, community events, and speaking engagements without our Speaker's Bureau volunteers. To reach all corners of our community, we need the outreach and professionalism provided by our Speaker's Bureau volunteers." Kayce also noted that volunteers often go “above and beyond,” noting a particular volunteer who used his own time to “write a heartfelt, funny and endearing presentation to truly convey the essence of our work at STSM…he also brings in cookies for staff, which is awesome!” OFFICE VOLUNTEERS: Ginny wrote that, “Time and again our office volunteers take projects that some people would consider beneath them, and they do it with a smile on their faces. I cannot begin to express how much this means to me. From the most basic data entry to the most complicated relationship-building meetings, it takes a lot of work to run an agency our size.” Each of our staff have a heavy work load, and Ginny said that, “if we are constantly focusing on the underlying capacity of these efforts we aren't able to focus on our specializations.” Sherry said that she loves “the energy they bring to the work environment. They always do an amazing job with any assigned project and are willing to share their ideas and creativity.” Bahiyyih noted that, “even the little things like answering the door help SO MUCH. Having someone else hop up and do that when I'm in the middle of articulating a thought is REALLY helpful.”
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 There were a total of 37 hospital calls in March 2014, more than in February 2014 and than the average for the last 6 months of 2013. There were a total of 57 hotline calls in March 2014, more than in February 2014 and the average in the last 6 months of 2013. 
In March 2014, STSM Volunteer Advocates took 29 hospital calls and 6 hotline calls. Overall, volunteers took 78% of all hospital calls and 11% of all hotline calls.
April 29, 6-7 pm in the STSM office The Dickerson Center’s Brooke Wymer, LMSW, will present on normal childhood sexual development. If you’ve ever been asked ‘is this normal or due to abuse’ or are interested in working with children, this is the session for you! Contact Sarah to RSVP.
It’s not too late to participate! Denim Day: We’ve already sent out materials (it’s today, April 23), but you can still get involved by posting a photo of yourself in jeans on social media with information about the event and why you’re participating, or sending it to us for our Denim Day gallery! Imagine If: Pieces for this arts-focused awareness campaign will be displayed at Tapp’s Arts Center through the end of the month! You’ve still got a week to view the exhibit. Start By Believing: We’ve gotten so many videos and photos from community supporters—you can see them on our website or Facebook. Snap your own photo to post or send to our staff!
May 12, 10:30 am-noon in the STSM office Melissa Lyons of the Lexington County Sherriff's Department Detention Center and Erin Wagner, a formerly incarcerated individual, will present. Contact Sarah to RSVP
July 21, 10:30 am-noon in the STSM office Staff from the SC State Attorney General’s office will present on the laws related to sex trafficking in SC. The Attorney General’s office heads a task force related to this issue. Contact Sarah to RSVP.
For Richland, Lexington, and Newberry County Advocates
Know someone who would make a great advocate, want to train yourself? Contact Sarah for more information!
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