Eastside Domestic Violence Program (EDVP) has been working for 30 years in East King County to help survivors of domestic violence (DV) along their path to safety and raise awareness within local communities of this wide-spread social problem. Started in 1982 by volunteers moved by two consecutive DV homicides in the Bellevue area, EDVP has grown to one of the largest DV organizations in King County and has served over 110,000 survivors of domestic violence since its inception. Interested in volunteering? EDVP’s next volunteer training starts on March 5, 2012. Please contact Rachel Olsen no later than March 5th at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
EDVP frames domestic violence as a human rights issue; this aligns with other international organizations work on women’s human rights such as UN Women. Indeed, DV affects 1 out of 3 women globally and 1 in 4 in the United States. In King County alone, a 2006 Group Health study reveals that 44% of women are survivors of DV.
A core reason for EDVP’s success in serving survivors of domestic violence is its extensive and committed network of volunteers. EDVP relies on volunteers to provide between 10,000-15,000 hours of work a year. This enables EDVP to continue to provide quality services despite the challenging economic times. At any given time there are between 400-500 volunteers who provide non-direct service assistance (fundraising, outreach, event-planning) as well as approximately 75 volunteers who provide direct service (crisis line,support group facilitation, shelter support).
Volunteer Coordinator, Rachel Olsen, has been instrumental in recruiting volunteers and increasing volunteer retention over the last three years. In an interview with her, she explained why volunteers are so vital for EDVP.
“We literally could not function without volunteers as they provide thousands of hours of service. Without them our crisis line would not be adequately staffed after hours, our on-going prevention work in the schools would be compromised, we couldn’t offer the same number of support groups. In addition,volunteers talk about DV to their friends and family and learn how to respond appropriately to DV outside the context of EDVP. They become important allies in the DV movement.”
What are possible volunteer opportunities at EDVP?
“For direct service we need people in the following areas: answering the crisis line, co-facilitating our women’s or children’s support groups, shelter advocacy, legal advocacy and even internships. For internships we have opportunities in the Youth Outreach program, for legal advocacy and at our transitional housing program, My Friend’s Place (MFP). MFP is unique because it offers both confidential shelter and DV services as well as out-patient chemical dependency treatment. We also create personalized internships to fit the needs of the individual. We can accommodate Bachelor’s and Master’s level interns.”
What can volunteers expect to learn or gain from volunteering with EDVP?
“When volunteers go through our training, this is seen as a jumping off point for direct service work. The 25 hour training, which is offered twice a year in March and August, is packed with information. We strive not only to give facts and figures, but context and depth to our work, so they’re learning compassion, patience, boundaries and how to be an effective helper. They learn sad truths about the way things are; how life-destroying DV can be and that DV is more pervasive than they once thought. I think it is world-view changing for a lot of people. They also learn about how a non-profit runs from the teamwork of the staff to fundraising, to understanding requirements placed by donors, to seeing how few options exist for survivors of DV and how much non-profits could benefit from more resources.”
Can men volunteer too?
“Of course! We love our male volunteers. They provide a unique perspective and we appreciate their allyship. Their presence shows survivors and their kids that good men are out there. Due to the nature of trauma, especially if they experienced DV as a child as well, survivors can have a warped perspective on DV – that it is the norm for intimate partner relationships. With male volunteers survivors see that it is possible for men to be compassionate, nurturing and caring. We would love to have more men involved.”
Lastly, EDVP functions on an “empowerment philosophy” – what does that mean and why is it important?
“This is the theoretical framework underlying our work. It dictates our day-to-day interactions with our program participants. In an intimate partner relationship where DV is present, the survivor’s personhood and agency has been methodically taken from them. We view our job as providing a safe space for them to grow and heal and regain their sense of self without being directive. We want to support them in having their journey happen naturally because lasting change is only truly possible when it comes from within. Hiccups and mistakes have to be OK and we are there to support them through the process.”
To find out more about EDVP services, visit www.edvp.org.