During college, I did my best to use theatre as a tool for social justice and awareness; being involved with plays that dealt with issues that I felt needed to be addressed, specifically with sexual and domestic violence. After I graduated college with a Fine Arts degree in Acting, I felt incredibly overwhelmed, confused, and lost; unsure of what to do next. I needed to find something to help ground me—I needed a place where I could feel connected to a cause. I googled some organizations in and around Richmond when I stumbled upon Safe Harbor. I went to their website and loved their mission, the resources they provided, everything—I immediately felt connected to it. I filled out the Volunteer Application in July and anxiously awaited Volunteer Training in August.
On the first night of training, I was like a kid heading off on their first day of school. I was so excited to learn, to be able to talk more about these issues, become more of an advocate, and work towards a mission I so whole-heartedly believed in. I soaked up training like a sponge. At the end of training, I picked my teams and couldn’t wait to start volunteering. There was one thing that stuck out to me, though, about the volunteer experience; they told us to make the volunteer experience our own and to bring our talents to the table.
That got me thinking. I loved theatre and I loved being an advocate for sexual and domestic violence survivors… so, let’s put on a play! I collaborated with Safe Harbor and John Tyler Community College and directed, “Extremities” by William Mastrosimone. Every night there was a representative from Safe Harbor who was not only there with resources, but was also there to guide everyone in a talk-back after the show to help process their feelings and answer any questions they had. We also had an interactive display that allowed people to write encouraging, supportive, and hopeful messages standing up against sexual violence. It was amazing to see the support. And at the end, we were also able to make a financial donation because of everyone’s wonderful support. I was so proud to be able to be a part of what Safe Harbor does in another way that spoke to me.
As I continued in my professional endeavors elsewhere, I still kept Safe Harbor near and dear to my heart and it eventually brought me back. So, now fast forward to 2019, as I sit here humble and grateful at my desk, at the Community Office as the Volunteer and Administrative Coordinator, I reflect on my time as a volunteer; how it helped me grow, expanded my intellectual and emotional horizons, and inspired me to stand up and start conversations.
So, to all the volunteers: thank you so much.
I am honored to have been able to be a volunteer and to now, work with you every day. The difference you make to our clients and families is unparalleled. Please continue to bring your passion, your talents, and I encourage you to make this experience your own. You have so much to give and we are so grateful for you.