Calling our 24-hour hotline is the first time many survivors engage with HAWC services. With that in mind, we rely on a team of highly-trained, compassionate volunteers to be available to speak with someone who is experiencing abuse at a moment’s notice, no matter the day of the week or time of day. Volunteer Stephanie Buck finds that answering the hotline is an opportunity to execute a tool she has long-relied on throughout her life: the power of words.
“Words matter, as stand alone statements, in great literature, or woven into poetry. Words are the tools I use as a HAWC hotline volunteer to empower domestic violence survivors and help them safety plan,” Stephanie said.
Stephanie, who lives in Salem and works for EBSCO advocating for open source software in libraries, applied to be a volunteer just a few months before the pandemic began after remembering a friend who did similar volunteer work when they were in college. Stephanie is a staple hotline volunteer, serving as a reliable resource for survivors every Sunday.
“I choose to volunteer on the hotline because of the flexibility in how and when I could volunteer with options for days and times that fit my work schedule,” Stephanie said.
Her Sunday shifts are never without impact either, with calls from survivors having slept in their cars over the weekend awaiting space at a shelter or someone who questions if what they’re experiencing is abuse. Sometimes a survivor calls to hear words of encouragement or words of compassion. Sometimes they need no words at all but rather to feel safe in compassionate silence.
“Answering hotline calls has given me knowledge and perspective about helping others. I cannot, and will not, ever be able to give everyone all of the help they need. But I have a tool box that I can draw from to give the help I can, in that moment, and offer support and validation, then step back again, hopefully with the client feeling a little better.”
Caring for oneself by understanding the signs of compassion fatigue or burnout is a cornerstone of HAWC’s Volunteer Program. We offer volunteers a strong network of support with many opportunities as a team to process and practice self care with one another and individually. Stephanie takes the business of small acts of self indulgence seriously: Besides enjoying cat snuggles while curled up with a book, her other go-to joy is to patronize all the amazing eateries in Salem. While on shutdown, she tackled every takeout and delivery option available, sometimes twice a day and on repeat! Stephanie is a great model for our new volunteers; she’s got firsthand experience with doing better by survivors by doing better for herself.
Stephanie has other skills she would like to bring to the table at HAWC in the future.
“I’d love to draw on some of my librarian skills more, perhaps connecting with clients and the community through reading, or information literacy, writing or a bookclub.”
HAWC thanks you Stephanie, along with all our volunteers. Your collective actions make a true difference for people who are experiencing abuse.
To learn more about HAWC’s Volunteer Program, visit hawcdv.org/volunteer.