Last week, we REMEMBERED with a memorial event, Speak Their Name, to honor those who lost their lives to domestic or intimate partner violence in 2020 and 2021. Now, we invite you to learn how SERVICE – and our dedicated volunteers – is the heartbeat of the Center. Many of our volunteers have followed their passions to serve the Center and support survivors in their journey to a safer life.
Natalie’s three-year volunteer journey with the Center for Women and Families began with an assignment in her senior year of high school. Her teacher instructed each student to select a topic they were passionate about, educate their classmates and the community about it, and perform 15 hours of relevant service work that supported the cause.
“I chose to advocate for human trafficking prevention and awareness, and working with the Center was a no-brainer,” said Natalie. “I reached out about getting involved and was welcomed with open arms. Even though I was much younger than nearly everyone I worked with, I was accepted as an equal and valuable member on the team.”
Natalie spent the second half of her senior year shadowing the Center’s family advocates and providing childcare for residents of the emergency shelter. She far exceeded the 15-hour requirement of her assignment by volunteering 12 hours each week – a total of 200 hours. These days, as a college student living away from Louisville, she stays connected to the Center by serving at the organization’s events when she’s able to be in town.
“When I was a freshman in college – which was pre-pandemic – I literally finished a class, got in my car, and drove two hours to the Marriott in Louisville for the Celebration of Service and Survival (COSS),” Natalie said with a laugh. “I love volunteering with the Center because doing so allows me to help others while gaining experience in my passion areas.”
While her work with the Center affords Natalie the opportunity to make a positive impact on survivors, she also finds incredible personal value in the experience.
“I vividly remember the first time I observed a client intake assessment and had to hold back tears,” Natalie said. “The woman’s obstacles seemed insurmountable, yet she was still able to make jokes and laugh. I cannot imagine experiencing the trauma she and other survivors have faced, yet they are so unbelievably resilient in their day-to-day lives. Unforgettable moments like that are why I am so passionate about this work.”
Natalie has continued her advocacy work as a student at Murray State University where she’s studying human services and sociology, including spearheading a group project centered around human trafficking prevention. She leveraged her knowledge and passion from volunteering with the Center to ensure her fellow group members approached the project in a mindful, survivor-centered way. The resulting work remains one of her proudest accomplishments to date, but surely won’t be the last as Natalie plans to incorporate advocacy work into her career path.