Many Roles, One Passion for Advocacy
Melissa Thompson has been many things in her life, a soldier, a nurse, a stay at home parent, a reading tutor, and, most recently, a volunteer advocate at Alexandra House. Her employer, Reading Corps, encourages all staff to volunteer in the community and Melissa thought “this is the push I need” to get involved and give back. She signed up for the Alexandra House 50-hour advocate training and began volunteering last October. She has been a frequent face in the shelter ever since. For her, the mission of Alexandra House is deeply personal to her; when someone close to her needed support leaving a violent relationship and navigating the legal aftermath, they turned to Alexandra House.
Alexandra House is committed to creating a culture of empowerment and collaboration where staff, volunteers, the community, and clients all have something to contribute and share in the work of creating a violence-free world. Melissa sees that first hand; saying that volunteer advocates “do everything that staff do” which makes her feel “like part of the team, that you’re not just someone that comes and does the stuff no one wants to do.” In the shelter, Melissa works collaboratively with staff and other volunteers to answer the 24-hour helpline, welcome new clients, and respond to any of the clients’ needs throughout the day. When she works in the shelter, Melissa feels like “I really have a role here… like I’m really contributing to the greater good.”
Though she loves shelter advocacy, the most rewarding role for Melissa is on-call hospital advocacy. In this role she meets with clients at the hospital as they receive forensic medical care in the immediate aftermath of a domestic or sexual violence. At Alexandra House, we are proud to respond to 100% of hospital and clinic calls, 24-hours a day. Without volunteers we would not be able to continue to do so. Truly, volunteer on-call hospital advocates like Melissa are a crucial part of the Alexandra House team. Not only is their service important to Alexandra House, these volunteers gain professional skills and work independently. Some volunteers in this role go on to work in healthcare or human services fields, building upon the hands-on experience in crisis intervention they learn at Alexandra House.
Melissa lives out the mission of empowering survivors of domestic and sexual violence and inspiring social change in her volunteer role at Alexandra House, in her role as a community member, and in her work with young readers. For her, working with children and youth, letting them know that violence in families is unacceptable, is especially important to breaking the cycle of abuse. Advocacy motivates Melissa and focuses her passion. For her, “being here keeps me grounded and reminds me what’s important… I always walk away feeling like I contributed something to someone at a really bad time.”
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer shelter advocate, on-call hospital advocate, or a support group facilitator, contact Jess Cheney, Alexandra House Community Education Coordinator, via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (763-795-5452). Our 50-hour advocate training begins with a mandatory information session on Monday, August 22; preregistration required.