(Posted 2021 December)
Meet Maggie Baxter!
How long have you been volunteering? How long have you held this role in Fairfax County?
I have been volunteering with DSVS [Domestic and Sexual Violence Services] for a little over two years.
Why volunteer? Why volunteer for this specific program?
A couple of years ago, I realized that I did not feel equipped to support people in my life who had or were currently experiencing domestic/sexual violence. Initially, I was just looking for resources to educate myself, but I ended up finding this program and decided to volunteer to learn more.
Talk about how you overcome the most challenging parts of volunteering.
I think one of the most challenging parts of this volunteer position is feeling comfortable talking to a stranger about something traumatic that happened to them. What helped me feel less uncomfortable was to preface the conversation by explaining my role and that I am only there to support them to the extent they desire. This dynamic puts less pressure on the individual to feel like they must share and gives them more autonomy in the conversation.
What is the best part of volunteering? Share your most memorable experience.
I think the best part of volunteering has been meeting fellow volunteers and learning why they were also drawn to this volunteer position. I have met some of the kindest people while volunteering with DSVS. The orientation training that all volunteers are required to take was very eye opening and the materials are something I still reference.
What has been your favorite training? What did you like about it? What did you learn?
I think the best training I have attended so far has been practice role-play sessions where we practiced responding to an individual using real-life examples. The feedback provided was very helpful, both from my fellow volunteers and the DSVS staff.
What advice do you have for people who may be thinking about becoming a DSVS volunteer?
I think this is a great program to volunteer with. You do not need to have experience or any prior knowledge – just empathy and a willingness to listen. The DSVS staff are very organized and supportive.
What do you wish you could do more of as a volunteer?
Even though I have been volunteering for a couple of years, I have never been called to respond to an individual in person. While it is a good thing that I have not been called often, I would appreciate the experience of being able to support someone in person if they needed it.
This article posting is part of the Domestic and Sexual Violence Services' Volunteer Voices monthly newsletter for current and potential volunteers. If you're not already a volunteer, learn how to get involved. Find out about upcoming trainings, volunteer trainings, happenings around the DSVS office and information about articles, books, media recommendations and more.
Learn more about the Domestic and Sexual Violence Services (DSVS).