July is the month to say goodbye to the Jesuit Volunteer AmeriCorps Members who have served at the WCA for the past year, Megan Skinner and Siobhan O’Carroll.
As the Community Support Specialist, Megan recruited and helped retain WCA volunteers, supported shelter families with in-kind donation drives, and provided monthly tours of the WCA facility to the public. For Megan, building relationships with volunteers was the most rewarding aspect of her service. “I have had amazing, life changing conversations with survivors who are far along in their journey of healing, and have chosen to give their time to help an organization that supports other survivors. Their courage and bravery has transformed the way I think about healing from trauma.” Megan says. Her service at the WCA has encouraged her to think deeply and critically about the impacts of violence, and motivated her to keep advocating for safer and stronger communities.
As the Outreach Coordinator, Siobhan arranged outreach tabling opportunities in the community, provided educational presentations to youth and adults, and managed WCA social media channels and the WCA monthly newsletter Taking Flight. “The most impactful moments for me during my year have been when I have had conversations with survivors at community events,” Siobhan says. “Domestic abuse does not happen to ‘other people,’ it is affecting our friends, our neighbors.” She remembers one instance in particular when she met a mother and a daughter, who had both been involved in abusive romantic relationships. “Not only was I able to provide these individuals with information about WCA support groups, counseling, and case management services, I was reminded of the need and the importance of WCA efforts for education and awareness building aimed at breaking the generational cycle of abuse.”
Megan’s most memorable time from the year was the holiday sponsorship program in December. “I was on my feet all day wrapping gifts, lifting boxes, helping donors, and assisting with client pick-ups,” she says. “I’ve never worked so hard in my life, but it was so worth it. We were able to sponsor 118 families this year.” Her favorite part was seeing the generosity of the donors, and hearing the personal stories of clients when they came to pick up their gifts: “Many expressed that they couldn’t believe someone out there, a stranger, would care this much about them, and that it helped them to believe that there are still caring people in the world. The client’s gratitude for the WCA was also abundant. I am so grateful to have been a part of an organization that is providing services to help survivors find their freedom. ”
Megan will be returning to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to pursue work in the nonprofit field. Siobhan will be entering law school at Washington University in St. Louis.
We are so grateful to Megan and Siobhan for their year of service, and for the continuing partnership with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest. This August, the WCA will be welcoming three new Jesuit Volunteers to the team: Abby Schultz, Katelyn Lyons, and Rebecca Del Rossi.
The Jesuit Volunteers Corps Northwest responds to local community needs in the Northwest by placing volunteers who provide value-centered service grounded in the Jesuit Catholic tradition. Jesuit Volunteers have the opportunity to live and serve with partner agencies in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.
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