Department of Family Services – Domestic and Sexual Violence Services

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

TTY 711

12011 Government Center Parkway, Pennino Building, Floor 7, Suite 740
Fairfax, VA 22035

Toni Zollicoffer,

Volunteer Voices – Current Issue

Volutneer Voices newsletter graphic image of conversation clouds, announcement horn, speaker microphone

Welcome to the 2021 April issue of Volunteer Voices, a monthly newsletter for current and potential Domestic and Sexual Violence Services (DSVS) volunteers.

In this Issue:

Table of Contents
  • Notes from the Staff
  • Volunteer Appreciation Week
  • Self-Care Corner: Beating Burnout
  • Cultivating Seeds of Equity and Justice: Defining Bias
  • Quotables
  • We Still Need You!
  • Program Spotlight: Counseling Services
  • Reviews: “I May Destroy You”
  • Raising My Voice: Katherine Bartz
  • Birthdays
  • Educational Resources
  • Quarterly Trainings
  • Make A Note


Notes from Staff

Alaha AhrarHello valued volunteers, 

My name is Alaha Ahrar, and I work as a victim advocate with DSVS. I want to thank you for your time volunteering in a very needed field, which is supporting the victims of human rights violations and domestic and sexual violence. I know exactly how you feel when you volunteer your time to help others. 

Let me tell you about my journey and what brought me to DSVS Advocacy Services. I was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and grew up in Islamabad, Pakistan. Since I was a child, I wanted to support those who cannot help themselves. When I was a high school student, I started volunteering online with two international organizations--Peace X Peace, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., and YouthGas in Australia. These experiences were very impactful, which made me aspire to get my higher education in these fields to help more people professionally. 

After high school, I won a scholarship to attend the University of Mary Washington; so, I travelled to the United States. Last December, I earned my master’s degree in social justice and human rights from George Mason University, which fully compliments my current work as a victim advocate.

Working for Advocacy Services and DVAC fascinates me and allows me to follow my passion to help people, while applying my knowledge and expertise in justice, fairness, equity and equality. Through my current work, I can help people of all genders, ethnicities, colors, religious beliefs and nationalities. The multicultural work environment of DVAC makes it the best place for me to share my multicultural knowledge and multilingual proficiencies. The diversity and openness of DVAC have allowed me to adapt easily to advocacy teamwork. 

Additionally, I serve on the Equity Workgroup with Gretchen Soto and Keesha Coke. This group works tirelessly to ensure equity is integrated to the very fabric of our work and that equitable services are embraced by all staff, at all levels, in support of our community. 

For self-care, I put my emotions and feelings in written form with poems and articles, or I may go for a long walk, where I can see beautiful views of nature. These activities make me feel peace and calm. 

Hope to meet more of you soon!

Alaha Ahrar
Victim Advocate

Volunteer Appreciation Week

wood block letters spell thank youVolunteer Appreciation Week is April 18-24, and we want to take this opportunity to express our gratitude for all that you do.

We would not be able to do our work or support as many survivors without you. And many of you, particularly Hotline, HASA, ADAPT, Legislative Review and Administrative volunteers, powered through this last year, while we have been staying home because of the pandemic.

We have two words to say to all of you: Thank you.

Also, mark your calendars for our Volunteer and Donors Appreciation Event on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. The event is free but registration is required.

Self-Care Corner

exercise hand weights and shoes5 Tips for Beating Burnout

If you find yourself easily irritated, short on patience and unable to concentrate, you may be experiencing burnout, which happens when your basic human needs are not being met for an extended period because of stress. But you can do something about this!

Check out the five tips to learn how to beat burnout.

Cultivating Seeds of Equity and Justice

international flags create silhouette of peopleDefining Bias

Unconscious biases are formed throughout our lives and are held at the subconscious level. As we gather millions of bits of information, our brain processes it in a certain way based on our societal and parental conditioning. Though most of us have difficulty accepting or acknowledging that we have biases, we all do. Implicit biases are everywhere, from our choice of where to live to the people we allow to be our friends, and it affects us more than we know. Learn more about bias.


one hand giving clock to another hand

“One of the greatest gifts you can give is your time.” 






We Still Need You!

hands using cell phoneThough Fairfax County’s office buildings currently are closed to the public, DSVS volunteers can still help answer the Domestic and Sexual Violence 24-Hour Hotline. We are also still providing hospital accompaniment via the phone. If you have questions about your role during the pandemic, contact Lynne Rowson or Ara Jo (Hotline) and Angela Acosta (Hospital Accompaniment).

Each newsletter will include this section to help share reviews, spotlight the people who support Domestic and Sexual Violence Services, recognize birthdays and list upcoming trainings and meetings.

Program Spotlight

room with two chairs, table plant, wall art, floor lampCounseling Services 

Counselors in Domestic and Sexual Violence Services specialize in creating safety, understanding violence, providing tools for coping, healing from traumatic experiences, strengthening supportive relationships, and supporting people to talk through whatever problems they have.

Learn more about how counseling services can help


movie theater“I May Destroy You”

“I May Destroy You” (HBO) follows Arabella, a writer navigating the aftermath of drug-facilitated sexual assault trying to put together fragmented memories of a night she has forgotten. As she tries to reconstruct what happened and manage the impact of her trauma, her friends navigate their own experiences of consent, assault and sexuality in their own lives. The journeys of each character are complicated by individual identity, culture and their relationships with one another and the world around them. 

Rejecting any narrative of heroes or villains, “I May Destroy You” is a show about imperfect people working to support those they love through trauma and healing in messy and non-linear ways. 

Writer, director and lead actor Michaela Coel is a survivor of sexual assault under circumstances similar to those of her character. She has noted in multiple interviews that she wrote the series to address the complex ways we discuss consent and the wide range of experiences of sexual assault and harassment. Her voice is bold and genuine and, with the help of her incredible costars, Coen presents a sincere portrayal of the trauma of sexual violence with themes both unique and universal.

—Abby Picard

Raising My Voice

Katherine BartzMeet Katherine Bartz, HASA & Legislative Review Volunteer

“I am a survivor myself. I feel like it was my duty as a survivor to help make sure the things I went through didn’t happen to anyone else. I had a pretty rough experience moving through the system and gaining support at times when I went through it, and I want to be a part of the solution for that.”

Learn more about Katherine’s commitment to volunteering for Domestic and Sexual Violence Services.



Nikita Dickey, 1
Ruchi Pandey, 1
Debra (Debi) Carmel, 5
Leigh Claypool, 12
Caroline Rankin, 12
Maci Nordone, 23
Ubaid Saleem, 24
Linda Moore, 26
Kim Hamlett, 27
Amanda Goldsmith, 29

Educational Resources

black gearsWebinar: Poverty’s Impact on the Brain
Wednesday, April 21, 2021 
9-11:30 a.m. or 1-3:30 p.m. 

Poverty is the single most significant issue impacting mental health and public education today. However, agencies attempting to address the needs of disadvantaged youths are doing so without knowing how poverty is transforming the brain. This training will:

  • Identify the structural and functional changes poverty is causing to the brains of the poor.
  • Teach modifications and treatment approaches that can improve outcomes with disadvantaged youth.
  • Explain how bias related to poverty influences behaviors and attitudes of providers, undermining their success.
  • Identify strategies that minimize the negative influences of poverty bias.

This webinar is free but registration is required.


There are no quarterly trainings this month.

Make a Note!

notepad and pen

Please take a moment to log on to your Volunteer Management System (VMS) account and log your hours for the month of March. Please also log any time you spent on training under “volunteer training.” If you do not see this selection under your opportunities, please email Debra Ranf, and she will log on to add it to your account. 

  • Please enter your hours for each day you volunteered and not as a lump sum.

  • If you need to log hours for a previous month, please send email Debra to let her know so she can be aware of the entry and expedite the approval process.

Check out past issues of Volunteer Voices.

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