In honor of our next volunteer training, which kicks off this weekend, we wanted to use this week’s blog to introduce you to Micaela, one of the many dedicated volunteers who make REACH tick! Read on to get to know Micaela…
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I spent my adolescence between Washington State and Central Pennsylvania, but the Pacific Northwest is my favorite part of the country. I moved to Boston to finish my degree at UMass Boston and have lived here for 6 years. I enjoy reading, indoor rock climbing, snowboarding, traveling, and exploring. Having grown up in diverse environments, I always challenge myself to take-on new perspectives and experience new things. I am a food enthusiast and am constantly researching new places to try.
How did you get involved at REACH?
I am very passionate about social justice and equality. I also believe that being educated about love and healthy relationships is important, and yet this information is not as accessible as it should be. I have wanted to find a way to involve myself with the community and advocate for issues that are important to me. Through an online search, I came across the REACH website and read about their organization and full-frame approach. It seemed like a perfect fit! From there, I interviewed for the volunteer position and completed the training courses (which were AMAZING!), and have been volunteering at the shelter for a year and a half.
What are some of the roles you’ve held or projects you’ve worked on over the years?
I have volunteered at different events held by REACH such as their Annual Fall Festival or the Holiday Gift Party and have helped out as needed at the office with childcare. My primary role as a volunteer has been with the shelter. I was not sure what to expect when I first began volunteering at the shelter, but felt prepared after the training courses.
For me, shelter volunteer work is all about creating a safe, supportive space for the residents, which has shifted my role over time. For example, volunteering includes house organization or decoration, assisting in the office, providing transportation for residents, or chiefly providing support for residents. I believe support is a critical part of ending domestic violence, and that is so important to me in my role as a volunteer. Providing support is about remaining objective and creating a safe space for residents. It is about getting to spend time with some amazing individuals. It can be as simple as hanging out in the kitchen discussing food and joking around with the residents. It is keeping residents company, sitting silently in the living room while watching television. It is listening and validating as an individual reaches out; being that ear to listen and provide a safe space.
Depending on the make-up of the house, my role has also been to help with the kids. This ranges from homework help, playtime (which is an adorable adventure), listening or telling stories, comparing dance moves or funny faces, being a presence in the room to just hang out, or lending an ear to listen to how they are feeling. Helping out with the kids can give parents some space to themselves and it can also provide that safe, supportive space for the kids.
What do you like most about volunteering with REACH?
It is easy to volunteer for an organization that is so inspiring. I admire all that REACH does for the community to end domestic violence. Being involved with REACH is easily one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. My time spent with the staff, between training, the shelter, and the events, is so fulfilling and encouraging being around. They are a wonderful, open-minded staff and I am happy to see such individuals advocating to end domestic violence.
Heading to the shelter every week also puts a huge smile on my face. I am perpetually inspired by the resilient people I meet, and hope that I am able to offer support and security to them as well. To listen to the survivors’ stories and watch as they flourish, from the parents to the children, during their time at the shelter is so rewarding. It is also so exciting and gratifying to see the survivors who have left the shelter at the Holiday Gift Party the following year and hear how they have moved forward with their lives.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering with REACH but not sure if they should get involved?
Get involved! Not only are the training courses beneficial for yourself and others, but personally, I carry the message of REACH with me and do not stop talking about all that I have learned. It is inspirational and gratifying. REACH has a variety of volunteer positions (from the office to the shelter to annual events) for everyone and can accommodate any schedule. You will not regret it.
If you think you might be interested in volunteering with REACH, click here for more information.