Volunteer Spotlight: Deb Jacob

Deb Jacob

 Tell us a little bit about yourself

I’ve lived in Needham for over 30 years and raised my three children there. After retiring from a career in Healthcare Administration, I’ve been able to volunteer in a number of capacities. I like to be involved on a more local level and its afforded me the opportunity to get more involved in my community and meet a lot of interesting people. Summers are happily spent on the Cape. I love reading and the beach in equal amounts. Travel is also one of my interests.  

How did you get involved at REACH?

I have to admit that initially I wasn’t so connected to the issue of domestic violence. I was invited to a meeting of the Needham Domestic Violence Action Committee as an extension of the suicide prevention work I had been doing in town. The High School needed an advisor for their Take Back the Night Club and I liked the idea of working with young and engaged students. I met representatives from REACH at a DVAC meeting and got to know several REACH employees as they provided support and expertise for the Club. I grew to admire and appreciate their work over several years. Their support extended to a recent 3 ½ hour training for members of the Club that profoundly changed all who attended.

I had helped out as a “reindeer” at REACH’s annual holiday party for the last few years. When I heard about volunteer opportunities, I was intrigued but worried about whether I was up to the work. After completing their training sessions, I felt better prepared and more confident. Although I still get a little nervous that I’ll get a call that I can’t handle, I have enjoyed volunteering there more than anything I’ve ever done, professionally or on a volunteer basis. I know the staff is there when/if I need them. A more supportive group, I’ve yet to meet!

What are some of the roles you’ve held or projects you’ve worked on over the years?

I’ve been involved in suicide prevention work in Needham, local political campaigns (not for myself, but others – I take a certain pride in the fact that none of my candidates have lost an election…), Board member for the Needham Community Council, including President of the Board, Board member for the Needham History Center, the Seasonal Giving Program at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. I’ve been the Needham High School’s Take Back the Night advisor for over 11 years. My most important role is as mother to my three wonderful children, mother in-law to the best daughter in-law a person could ask for, grandparent to two dogs, and partner to my husband of over 30 years.

I’m looking forward to helping REACH as they deepen and expand their work as part of their saturation approach within my community.

What do you like most about volunteering with REACH?

The people! Both staff and survivors. The staff at REACH are one of the most incredible groups I’ve ever encountered. Their commitment to mission, expertise in programing and outreach, kindness and compassion are remarkable. And lastly, they are a group I ENJOY being around as well! And it’s not only their love of dogs…well maybe that’s a big part…

I can’t say enough about how impressed I’ve been with the approach REACH takes to dealing with domestic violence. In supporting survivors and meeting them wherever they are in their journey they empower, validate and honor their experiences. I never cease to be amazed at the impact they have.

There are so many factors to navigate for survivors of domestic violence that I’ve come to appreciate what our advocates and staff deal with daily. And prevention is a complicated- yet essential- need for us to focus on in order to make any meaningful change in our society. I now recognize the depth and pervasiveness of violence for so many people around us and the need to address it in an effective, lasting way.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering with REACH but not sure if they should get involved?

Just talk to them!! The training provided by REACH staff is something that I think every person could benefit from. I think it makes you a better human being overall and improves skills that are applicable in a variety of situations. Learning about the prevalence of domestic violence, how to support survivors and promote prevention is something that our society needs more work on.

Becoming involved with REACH means becoming a part of a community that allows a person to make a difference on multiple levels and belong to something that is bigger that themselves. I know my volunteering helps support REACH staff in their work, but REALLY I’ve gotten so much more from them than I give!