In this video & blog post, two Safe Harbor volunteers (video: Jami Mullikin and blog post: Andrea Hopkins) share what volunteering at Safe Harbor means to them and why others should serve or give.
by Andrea Hopkins, Safe Harbor Board of Directors
After I moved here 16 years ago and got myself settled, I started a search for a non-profit organization I could really believe in and get behind. While attending a United Way luncheon, heard the then Director talk about Safe Harbor. Even though I had no experience with domestic violence, I felt it would be a great place for me to start. Back then, I had no idea this cause would come to mean so much to me that I would eventually join the Board! I was still raising a child and working full time so didn’t have too much time…being a Child Advocate was right up my alley. For several years, I looked after the children at the Safe Harbor Greenville shelter for 2 hours at a time every other week so the mothers could attend classes and support groups.
At first, I thought “Child Advocate” was a fancy way of saying babysitting. However, I soon learned these children needed so much more than babysitters. They needed someone to listen. I’ll never forget the little boy who told me his daddy was in jail for breaking his mommy’s arm; or the little girl who so sadly told me her daddy drove the blue chicken truck, but he was really mean to her and her mommy. To this day, when I see a blue chicken truck I wonder if it’s him – the man who made this sweet little 5-year-old girl so sad. I realized these children were there to heal and needed all the help they could get
At some point in my Child Advocate years, I came to realize what little time I was giving meant so much. If a family stayed at the shelter for weeks or months, some of the children came to look forward to my visits and the mothers were so grateful to have people donate their time to help in any way. Sometime kids were beligerent; they didn’t want to listen, and I always hoped they would learn that was not the way to get by in this world. I hoped that by getting counseling and being away from the things they had seen in their home, that they would heal and grow to be productive, happy adults. I hoped my time would help them heal. My biggest fear is that they would end up going back to that place that was unsafe and nothing they learned or felt while at Safe Harbor would make any difference.
I learned that volunteering with Safe Harbor is not only a great way to feel good about yourself but also a way to help people with great need. As an advocate for Safe Harbor, I can make a difference in so many other ways…by having the Association I’m involved in donate food or clothing or other items needed at the shelter…or perhaps getting a group together to completely redo a bedroom at the shelter. There are so many ways a volunteer can help and advocate, simply by getting the word out in our communities about the wonderful non-profit organization we call Safe Harbor.