Carly has been volunteering in childcare at THP since 2010, during which time she has been a calming, fun-loving presence in the children’s lives. She is equally at home playing on the floor with toddlers, and having a serious conversation with one of our teens. She has also taken time out of her weekends to take family portraits for the families, many of which haven’t ever had one before. Thanks to Carly for being so reliable, and for bringing such warmth to THP childcare!
What do you do as a volunteer at New Beginnings and what do you like most?
Primarily I work as a childcare volunteer at the Transitional Housing Program. Occasionally I also take family portraits for the residents at THP.
The best part of volunteering has been simple, but it is being in the moment with the children. I frequently spend time with children outside of New Beginnings, but when I volunteer, I don’t have an agenda other than being present and enjoying the lively, inspirational young people.
When I take family portraits, it is often a great moment when I am able to give the prints back to the families and watch their faces light up, especially the children, in their recognition of themselves. I’m grateful that I have the ability to give the families a small gift that they may keep for years to come. It is also a gift that they may not be able to do for themselves.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen at your volunteer site?
I can’t think of an interesting occurrence off hand, but I have felt grateful to witness children experiencing their feelings. When I have seen children upset for various reasons, for at least a brief moment I was able to acknowledge their emotions and normalize their experience. Feelings are not always safe to express in domestic violence environments.
What do you do when you’re not volunteering?
When I’m not volunteering, I work as an Art Therapist, and Marriage and Family Therapist. I’m currently back in school to further my ability to help people through different healing modalities. Other than that, I enjoy attending UW football and basketball games, going to musicals, and traveling. I also engage in art-making and practice yoga.
What do you know now about domestic violence that you didn’t know when you first started volunteering?
Domestic violence can be an insidious and disorienting process. Although intellectually I have a grasp of the patterns and signs of domestic violence, it can look different depending on the individuals or families it is affecting. Therefore being exposed to families who have been through domestic violence is continually a learning experience.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Honestly, I can’t think of a piece of advice that significantly stands out enough for me to pinpoint it. However the word I keep with me is “faith.” That word could be applicable in many contexts, but typically I believe that remembering faith is believing that things will work themselves out, and that in time, we will be guided on the path that was made for us. For example, when I did the volunteer training at New Beginnings I wasn’t even planning on volunteering (I was taking the training to supplement my internship). Nonetheless three years later I’m still thankfully involved with New Beginnings.