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Every minute, 20 people become victims of intimate partner violence. You can help turn those victims into survivors by joining forces with one of the thousands of domestic violence nonprofits throughout the country. All you need is a desire to help and a willingness to donate your time. So, where do you begin?
Three questions to help you figure out what type of volunteer position is best for you:
1. How much time do you have to give?
While all nonprofit agencies have their own policies regarding requirements for volunteers, you’ll probably find that if you want to work directly with the clients (aka, the survivors), you’ll need to complete some type of training. Melanie Galloway, volunteer coordinator at Laura’s House, a domestic violence advocacy organization and shelter in California, says that their volunteers need to complete a 40-hour domestic violence advocacy training class to work directly with clients, “a necessity to ensure the ongoing safety of the clients,” she says. “Once completed and accepted, volunteers are able to assist in such areas as the 24-hour crisis hotline, childcare, case management and house coordination.”
Not that much time to dedicate? Galloway says that positions which don’t require the advocacy training include things like helping with special events; data entry and administrative work; hosting a clothing or food drive; or hosting your own fundraiser.
2. What are your skills?
Gretchen Shaw, director of strategic partnerships and projects with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, says her organization gets a lot of calls from people who want to help, “but it’s hard to place that person if they don’t know what they want to do and what their skill set is.” Examine your strengths — are you well organized? Maybe you can help in the office filing paperwork. Are you good with children? You would be a good fit for any childcare volunteer positions. Maybe you’re a writer — survivors at the shelter may need help crafting a resume to begin a job search.
3. How far are you willing to drive?
Nonprofits prefer reliable and consistent volunteers, so make sure to find a volunteer location that isn’t too far away from where you live, advises Galloway. “The agency is counting on you to alleviate the workload. Be considerate of your commitment just as the agency should be considerate of your dedication and willingness to take time out of your life to help,” says Galloway. Need help finding a nonprofit? DomesticShelters.org is a great place to start. Enter your zip code in our search tool and find options near you.
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