Three Ways You Can Make a Difference in the New Year
By Liza Long Photo Kimberlee Miller
Where would you go if you didn’t have a home? Interfaith Sanctuary provides over 55,000 nights of shelter and meals each year for individuals and families in our community who are experiencing homelessness, regardless of their race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, or disabilities. Respect, dignity, compassion, and community are the core values that guide their services. The Sanctuary also provides day programs for families. Volunteers can help in a variety of ways, from serving shelter guests to providing in-kind assistance.
Jodi Peterson, Interfaith Sanctuary’s Co-Director and Director of Development, explains why volunteers love to work with the shelter’s guests. “If you were to ask a first-time volunteer why they chose Interfaith Sanctuary as a place to give service, the normal response is they want to help the underserved population in a meaningful way,” Peterson told me. “They go in thinking, ‘I’m going to help someone’ but often leave feeling that somehow our guests and their volunteer experience ended up helping them too. The benefit of volunteering at Interfaith is that it feeds your soul, fills your heart and gives you wonderful perspective on the blessings in your life.”
Women and Children’s Alliance of Boise
When people experience domestic abuse or sexual assault, they often feel like they have nowhere to turn. The Women and Children’s Alliance works for “safety, healing, and freedom from domestic abuse and sexual assault.” The WCA runs a 24-hour domestic violence and rape crisis hotline and provides shelter for abuse victims. Volunteer orientation information and applications for volunteer positions, including outreach, advocacy, children care, events, administration, and thrift shop positions, are available at the organization’s website.
“Last fiscal year, volunteers contributed over 9,600 hours to the WCA, the equivalent of having almost five additional full-time staff. Volunteers help out within all aspects of the agency, from childcare, admin and outreach to court advocacy and special facility projects. The WCA wouldn’t be able to help all the people who need our services without the commitment of dedicated volunteers,” said Bea Black, WCA Executive Director.
“Even more impactful to me personally at times, is to see the impact the compassion and support from these volunteers has on our clients. The fact that so many people who have never met them are willing to give so much of their time to help make their lives better can be incredibly empowering and healing.”
Domestic Abuse Hotline: 208.343.7025
Sexual Assault Hotline: 208.345.7273
Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline
Suicide is a leading cause of preventable death in Idaho and across the nation. Idaho Suicide Prevention hotline volunteers literally save lives. In 2016, 82 volunteers staffed crisis lines for more than 3,000 hours, offering immediate help and hope to those in need. The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline provides “crisis intervention, emotional support, problem solving, and referrals to local resources for persons at risk for suicide and for those concerned about them.” Potential volunteers should complete an application and background check, then attend an orientation to schedule a listening shift.
ISPH volunteer and mental health advocate Jennie Rylee feels like volunteers make a measurable difference while learning important skills. “So many lives are touched by suicide, including mine. But I believe that adversity can be an instrument for positive change, so I didn’t hesitate to sign on as a volunteer for the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline,” she told me. “The Hotline is a place where I can make an immediate difference in someone’s life—maybe even save a life. The skills we learn in training apply outside the crisis phone room also. I’m a better listener, a more empathetic wife and mother, a more compassionate friend. Volunteering on the Hotline is more satisfying than I ever could have imagined.”
Text or call the hotline at 1-208-398-4357