Meet Katherine Bartz, HASA & Legislative Review Volunteer!
How long have you been volunteering? How long have you held this role in Fairfax County?
I’ve been volunteering in various capacities and in various types of programs since 2010, but it wasn’t until 2018-19 that I started volunteering for the Domestic and Sexual Violence Services program in Fairfax County. I started out as a HASA volunteer, but when my life got a little bit busier, I was able to move to legislative review, which has helped me still feel like I’m helping to make the system better for survivors.
Why volunteer? Why volunteer for this program?
My passion for helping people has always led me to volunteer in some capacity, starting with food kitchens and homeless support. I chose to move to volunteer for domestic and sexual violence services because I have a true passion for the law–especially around this topic--and 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. Support for victims has come so far, and it makes me so happy for survivors that they have the support – in person, virtually and from afar.
Talk about how you overcome the most challenging parts of volunteering.
The most challenging part of volunteering for me is stepping outside of what happened to me, personally, and understanding that every situation is different. There are times when survivors don’t want support or don’t want to take action for various reasons, and it’s hard to accept in the moment, but the most important thing is that they feel safe and supported in their own decisions. That’s what helps me get through it – knowing that no matter what they decide, they know we’re here for them.
What’s the best part of volunteering? Share your most memorable experience.
The best part of volunteering is knowing you’re doing work that can positively affect a person who needs it most, especially in this field. I have loved every minute of legislative review I’ve performed because it truly makes a difference for the future.
What has been your favorite training? What did you like about it? What did you learn?
Actually, the training sessions and getting to know the other volunteers are some of my favorite experiences. My favorite training was the initial introductory training for the DSVS program. It’s fully encompassing of all you need to know to offer support for survivors in any capacity. I learned more about the different types of violence and abuse, including financial restraint used to cause emotional abuse on a person. This was something I hadn’t really thought about previously, but it was so clear how easily that could be a factor for so many.
What advice do you have for people who may be thinking about becoming a DSVS volunteer?
If you’re interested, absolutely take the training and go for it. If you’re afraid of how it will affect you emotionally, know you’re not alone. We all get emotional. The volunteers and staff are all there to help you, too. And, at the end of the day, emotional or not, you’re still helping someone in need.
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).