“We do a lot of stuff behind the scenes that most people don’t know,” says Laura Haggerty-Lacalle, data manager in Domestic and Sexual Violence Services.
The “we” she is referring to is the Administration Team, and the small unit carries a big load for the division. The team is made up of two sections: administration, which provides cross-program administrative support, and the analytics team. Both sections utilize volunteers, though much of that support has been on hold during the pandemic.
So what, exactly, does the Administration Team do?
The team does more than just answer phones and make sure invoices are paid, though they do that, too.
“Every single client who comes through DVAC [Domestic Violence Action Center] and Counseling is going to interact with a member of the Admin Team,” Haggerty-Lacalle explains.
When someone calls the DVAC line, the first person they’ll talk to is a member of the Administration Team. “It’s so crucial they get all the info correct--rules about privacy, what they’re allowed to say, figuring out the next advocate who can take that call. And make sure it gets picked up. It’s not just send it along, bye-bye,” she says. “When we were in the office [pre-COVID], we could do a check. Now everything is virtual, so it has to be more intentional to make sure everything is picked up.”
The same goes for calls for Counseling. “Before, for counseling referrals, somebody would call the line, leave a voicemail and all the stuff would be done behind the scenes and passed to Counseling,” Haggerty-Lacalle says. “But we realized people want to know if they leave a message, they will be heard. So the first person that person will interact with is someone on the Administration Team. Then we assign to a respective counselor.”
The team is also vital to the Boards and Commissions connected to DSVS. “We do the administrative stuff—reservations for meeting rooms, setting up Zoom now that we’re virtual, staying on top of FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] requirements, minutes for the meetings, making sure meetings are recorded and uploaded to SoundCloud,” says Mery Juarez, DSVS’ office manager.
And they are always looking at ways to streamline processes and performing quality control to make improvements where necessary. “You don’t see everything we’re doing,” Juarez says. “We don’t do the big events, but it’s little things behind the scenes that make it possible for the big events to happen.”
That’s where volunteers are especially critical during non-pandemic times.
According to Haggerty-Lacalle and Juarez, when volunteers are onsite, they have duties as varied as being liaisons with the printer, assembling binders and other materials for trainings, assisting with paper cutting and laminating, covering phone lines, keeping track of outreach materials, and helping Didier Stom clean data before analysis.
Volunteer opportunities exist during the pandemic, but they are limited. Haggerty-Lacalle is optimistic that when things return to a hybrid-normal, they will be able to resume the full slate of volunteer duties. This is essential so the Administration Team can focus on other duties, like data, reports and cell phone procurement.
“We help support all of the other programs in lifting up the work that the rest of the division does,” Haggerty-Lacalle says. “It’s sort of the backbone. You know you have a good Admin Team if you don’t know that they’re there.”
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.
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