“This Place Makes Me Feel Humble”
Mamta Saraf has been a volunteer at Alexandra House for nearly a decade and in that time she has learned a lot. Volunteering at Alexandra House has given her a glimpse into the struggles of her neighbors and other community members. To her, working with clients who are persevering and gaining strength despite the traumas they’ve been through is inspiring and powerful. While she recognizes that “you see the worst of humanity” in the people that cause violence you also see “the best of humanity” in the survivors.
Mamta was raised outside of New Dehli, India and moved to Minnesota in 1975, where she graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Masters in Mass Communication and Journalism. After getting her degree, she worked in finance for many years and eventually joined her husband at the construction firm they own. Mamta says “I think I’m the luckiest person because I have a car that I can go home in, I have a family that cares for me, I have a home to go to and I really feel blessed.”
Once her kids had grown up, Mamta wanted to “return something back to the community” and she began looking for volunteer opportunities in her area. Mamta was intrigued by the Alexandra House mission and it was nearby her home so she thought “I’ll give it a shot, I’ll try it out.” After attending a 50-hour advocate training Mamta began volunteering in the shelter, helping clients with whatever they might need, and facilitating support groups focused on life-skills, budgeting, and finances. She has been volunteering weekly with Alexandra House ever since!
Alexandra House touched Mamta because in the community where she grew up “domestic abuse was a part of life” and victim-blaming was pervasive. When she came to Minnesota she believed that in the United States “women had an equal chance” to succeed and be free from violence but when she began volunteering she said the reality that domestic violence happens here “really hit me hard.” For her, the most surprising aspect of volunteering was becoming familiar with the scope of the issue.
I did not realize that there was such a need… that there was so much ignorance and violence, and that women were so vulnerable.
Becoming a volunteer was challenging and a little scary at first but Mamta said, “the training was very good.” The first day in the shelter Mamta said she was “totally lost” but she worked hard, did the work, and now she even helps new staff members learn the ropes.
The whole shelter is so friendly and helpful, so nice and so caring. Basically, they’re human. I don’t think you can come into this job unless you have humanity.
The next 50-hour advocate training session will be held in September 2017. If you want more information about volunteering or if you want to be on the interest list for the fall training, please contact the Community Education Coordinator Jess Cheney (firstname.lastname@example.org).