I began working at the reception desk at Elizabeth Gregory Home’s Day Center after shadowing a friend for several days so that I could get an idea about what the job would be like before diving in myself. Through these initial sessions, I quickly became acquainted with many women who are clients as well as EGH staff. As the first person people encounter when they come through the doors of the Day Center, I try to make everyone feel welcome, to feel that they have found a safe and caring place.
I also developed a sense of how to interact with women in a way that supports their needs without putting me into situations that I am unprepared to handle. Over time, with training from staff and written guidelines for volunteers, I have developed a good sense of my own boundaries and when I need to call on staff to intervene. I have also connected with women who appreciate my presence and recognize my commitment to supporting them in whatever way I can.
As a lifelong Seattle resident, I have seen many changes in the city. I am concerned for all the people who are getting priced out of decent housing in Seattle. It used to be that if you missed a couple of paychecks you might risk losing your apartment, but now rents are rising faster than wages and people can be working full time and still not make enough to pay rent.
I came to EGH out of a desire to support my own recovery program. I knew I needed to make a commitment to do community service, to step outside my own issues and see the world from a different perspective. I believe that by providing help and support to others it will help me as I help them. After five months of weekly volunteering at EGH, I am confident that I made a good choice, one that sustains me while also supporting EGH clients. For four hours every Tuesday afternoon, I’m not thinking about myself.
As I have settled into my role, I have developed a deeper understanding of how I can do something about homelessness, how one person can take action to make a difference in the life of another. I am committed to my service through EGH and am grateful for the opportunity to make my own path to recovery one which is oriented toward helping others.
EGH depends upon the work of professional staff and many volunteers. Working together, we provide ongoing support and connection for the many women who come through our doors. I am exactly where I need to be in my life right now, and a big part of that is giving back through my work at EGH. Being able to connect with and support women who are struggling to overcome homelessness has given me the opportunity to make a difference. I really do get more out of it than I put in.