The Great Pay-Off of Volunteering

April 2022

The Great Pay-off of Volunteering

One woman’s career was shaped by one month of volunteering

“Especially in times where people have felt isolated, volunteering is a way to connect with others and contribute to something beyond yourself,” said Kirstin Buck, who volunteered at Hope Center while in nursing school. Hope Center advocates for people who have experienced sexual and domestic violence in Rice County.

National Volunteer Week April 17 to 25 is a good time to remind ourselves that volunteering enriches us all. In Kirstin’s case, it led to a career focus and sense of purpose. Meanwhile, Hope Center benefited from Kirstin’s wide-ranging skills.

While some of Kirstin’s volunteer work at Hope Center entailed the kind of filing and paperwork some might call mundane, Kirstin didn’t view it that way. She saw how grateful case workers were for the relief she provided by stepping in to help. If she hadn’t jumped in, the paperwork would have piled up for them to handle on top of full caseloads.

Kirstin also got a front row seat to observe what victims/survivors of abuse go through, including navigating the court system. “I accompanied people as a supportive presence at court appearances,” she said, noting these opportunities were always client approved, and she also answered phones providing triage to people in crisis.

Hope Center taught her that helping victims/survivors means understanding that each person has their own path to healing; they are the experts in their own lives. Support means giving people a place to turn to in a crisis not telling them how to heal.

She encourages others to jump in and volunteer because of the external and internal rewards. “You don’t have to be and expert about an area to volunteer,” she said. “People are so grateful for your participation and they’ll support you along the way.”

And you never know where the connections you make will lead you. The intensive month-long volunteer experience ignited Kirstin’s passion for helping victims/survivors of assault. Today, Kirstin is a public health RN who specializes in sexual assault and reproductive health, and she is trained as a sexual assault nurse examiner or SANE.

Volunteer Week is a great time to research ways you could volunteer. Check out our Volunteer page!

Elizabeth Child, Executive Director
Rice County Area United Way