Meet Nancy Lee, Hotline & Hospital Accompaniment Support Advocate (HASA)!
How long have you been volunteering? How long have you held this role in Fairfax County?
I have been volunteering with the HASA and Hotline programs for about nine months.
Why volunteer? Why volunteer for this specific program?
I volunteer because it uplifts the community, allows me to support a social cause I believe in, deepens my connection to others and contributes to creating a more compassionate world.
I wanted to volunteer with this specific program because gender and relationship-based abuse is an issue I’m very passionate about. There’s still a huge amount of ground to cover to ameliorate the high rates of domestic and sexual assaults, and helping individual survivors is one of the most direct and rewarding ways to make a difference.
Talk about how you overcome the most challenging parts of volunteering.
I’ve definitely struggled with the uncertainty of not knowing if victims turn out OK in the long run. My primary role is being an initial point of contact, so I don’t usually talk to the same survivor more than once. I often feel quite sad to part ways after someone has confided so much in me, since I’m invested in their journey and want to have some peace of mind knowing they’ve improved their situation.
Even though I might never speak to the survivors again, the DSVS staff and volunteers I’ve worked with are all incredibly compassionate and kind people, and it’s hard to imagine being in better hands. Having this level of faith in DSVS [Domestic and Sexual Violence Services] personnel definitely helps overcome my worries about not knowing what happens to the victims I meet during my shifts.
What is the best part of volunteering? Share your most memorable experience.
One of the best parts of volunteering with survivors is having moments when I’m able to help turn some of the anxiety and fear into hope and relief. Sensing that positive shift in a caller/patient’s energy and tone is incredibly fulfilling.
One of my most memorable volunteering moments was speaking to a caller who was initially severely distressed, but laughing and cracking jokes by the end of the call! I’m very humbled to see how strong and resilient people can be – finding these moments of joy even through the pain and trauma.
What advice do you have for people who may be thinking about becoming a DSVS volunteer?
I think self-care is particularly important in this type of volunteer position because you’re exposed to a lot of difficult situations that can weigh heavy on the mind. The DSVS staff has been a really great support network when I’ve felt the need to share my thoughts about a particularly challenging shift, and having that ease of communication has been very valuable.
Overall, I can’t recommend volunteering with DSVS strongly enough. The training curriculum is incredibly informative and comprehensive, the staff is wonderful and getting to help survivors take actionable steps toward recovery is one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve ever had.
What do you wish you could do more of as a volunteer?
One of my goals for this year is to get involved on the outreach side of things. I’d really enjoy helping to increase public awareness of domestic and sexual violence issues, in addition to my current roles that help individual DV/SV [domestic violence/sexual violence] survivors.
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).