Read more books? Get a gym membership? Take a cooking class? Many of us start the new year by reflecting on the successes and challenges of the past year, and choosing resolutions for this new chapter in our lives. Maybe you are wondering how you can use this year’s resolution to make a difference in the lives of others. Here at REACH, our volunteers make a difference every single day. With our winter training series right around the corner, we hope you will consider making it your resolution to become part of our team as a reception, moving crew, or childcare volunteer at REACH.
So, what do these roles actually look like? I’ve learned in my three months at REACH that reception goes well beyond opening the door and answering the phone. As survivors walk into our lobby from the elevator, our reception volunteers are the first people they see and the first people who can shape their experience at REACH. Our reception volunteers use their warm presence, empathy, and problem solving and listening skills to create an environment in which survivors and their families feel heard and welcomed. If you’re someone who loves organization (like me!), you may particularly enjoy flipping through the large resource binder to find just the right phone number for a survivor or family member who calls the office. Reception never looks the same from day to day, so if you are flexible and enjoy variety, this might be the position for you!
Maybe you prefer some manual labor over an office setting. If so, we’ve got you covered. Our moving crew helps on weekdays, evenings, or weekends to move survivors in and out of housing or to accompany a survivor to one of the local furniture banks where they can go with a referral from an advocate to get free furniture for their new home. As a moving crew member you’re not just lifting boxes, you are helping a survivor gain their independence. According to one of our moving crew volunteers, “I can step back and see a previously empty place that now looks like a home where someone can start a new life. There have been a number of moves where I’ve received a hug and a heartfelt thanks from a person that I had never met before. It quickly becomes clear that it’s not just a new couch or a bed. It’s the beginning of a new life for them.”
Or perhaps you’re a master Uno player who loves making crafts, and you want to provide a safe space for children while their caregiver attends one of our support groups or makes dinner for their family. Our childcare volunteers work in both our main office and our shelter, and their regular presence provides consistency and lots of fun for the kiddos we serve (What kind of fun? Just a few weeks ago I saw one of our volunteers running around the playroom dressed up as Olaf the snowman from Frozen). More than once I’ve heard volunteers tell me after a shift, “I think I had more fun than the kids!”
If you are feeling inspired by one of these roles, I encourage you to fill out a volunteer application here and return it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always excited to chat with prospective volunteers, so please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions. There is still some room in our winter training, so consider setting a resolution this year to volunteer at REACH. As one of our amazing reception volunteers said “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 than themselves.”
Are YOU ready to make a difference this year?