Volunteer Profile: Terri Homan
Time and again, our volunteers share their experiences with us through feedback and personal stories. While each of them has different stories, for us, it’s the love and dedication with which they join our programs with the hope that they can make a small difference in the lives of others, that stand out. Terri Homan is one such volunteer. She has been facilitating support groups for nearly four years. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alexandra House staff and volunteers had to adapt quickly and identify new ways to continue providing services in our community. Currently, Terri facilitates a virtual, weekly support group for adult women who have experienced domestic abuse and are ready to explore their healing process and find hope. Here is what Terri has shared with us about her experience at Alexandra House:
For most of my professional career, I worked in the emergency department. When we had women come in who had experienced domestic violence or sexual assault, they needed more than medical staff could provide. It was so helpful to be able to offer the services of a hospital volunteer to provide the emotional support patients required. When I moved to Minnesota, I discovered a nonprofit, Alexandra House, close to my home and wondered how to get involved. I went through their 50-hour advocate training and began to serve as a hospital volunteer, and later became a support group facilitator. I was impressed by the extensive training Alexandra House provided and the variety of services they offer. But what I have been most surprised about is the amazingly complex situations victims/survivors present with; and how capable the staff is at sorting through what seems to be a mountain of issues.
The work can be challenging and emotionally draining – but the high point of my volunteerism is working with those attending support groups. Some evenings are what I’d term as ‘landmarks’ – when the women make self-discoveries and share them, or find parts of themselves they didn’t realize were still there. They are miraculously open and honest.
I wish people knew more about how the clients served by Alexandra House cover a broad spectrum of “how and why” they find themselves in the situation. They are from all life experiences and don’t fit into any specific stereotype of “an abused person.” I also wish people could understand how HUGE the pain is…it’s real, and it takes a lot of time and work on the part of the survivor to heal from the trauma. These survivors work very hard to put the pieces of their lives back together. As a support group facilitator, I’ve had the privilege to witness almost from start to finish, their transformation. They arrived afraid and timid and left strong and independent.
Today, the world around us is exploding at an ever-accelerating pace. It seems the whole world has gone crazy – and it can be overwhelming. There seems to be too much to address, too many significant societal issues, and moving parts. Domestic and sexual violence is just one part of the bigger picture of how so many humans disregard others. I feel that domestic and sexual violence is misunderstood; in what is its root cause, in its scope and impact, and the intervention.
Right now is the time to ask, “what should be done to help heal the world? And what can I do?” Mr. Rogers said when times get tough, look for the healers. So, for me, I want to learn how to be an effective healer. That comes from living by example, teaching where opportunity exists, listening carefully to what people don’t understand, and trying to address their information gaps.
Most importantly, violence prevention has to become part of our everyday skillset, talked about, and taught in the home, among friends, in schools, and institutions. Through Alexandra House, I feel like I can do my part. I can give my time to a cause that I passionately support; ending domestic and sexual violence. By volunteering, I can be a part of an individual’s journey as they persevere and gain strength despite the traumas they’ve experienced.
If you are interested in volunteering at Alexandra House, contact our Volunteer Services Coordinator, at 763-795-5452 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. The next 50-hour advocate training will be held in Spring 2021, get on our waitlist now as spaces fill quickly.