1) How were you introduced to this WAFWC?
It started with just an Internet search! I'm a domestic violence survivor, and after taking time to process my experience and come to a place of feeling stable on my feet, I went looking for opportunities to see how I could help other folks.
2) What is your role at WAFWC and how did you come into that role?
I started as a volunteer with Family Support Services in the weekly food program and as a certified volunteer advocate on the 24-hour hotline. The work wasn't easy, but it was fulfilling, and I loved it enough to apply (and get hired!) as a full-time advocate on staff. I'm now the community engagement coordinator, which means I work with new volunteers and try to offer as many prevention education opportunities I can for everyone in Santa Cruz County.
3) What has this experience at WAFWC taught you and how have you grown?
A lot of the peer counseling skills I learned as an advocate have actually been really in my personal relationships with friends, partners, and family! But it also allowed me to see firsthand the interconnectedness of violence: to understand gender-based violence, you also have to look at racism, transphobia, ableism, anti-Semitism, and all the other forms of oppression on both the societal and individual levels.
“It's been humbling to have the honor of hearing individual survivors' stories and be both witness and support, often during the most challenging periods of their lives.”
4) What is an accomplishment you are really proud of while being a part of WAFWC?
It's been humbling to have the honor of hearing individual survivors' stories and be both witness and support, often during the most challenging periods of their lives. Every survivor has their own process of finding safety and healing and everything they earn is on their own merits, but with that being said, there's nothing as fulfilling as someone telling you, "Thank you. You were exactly what I needed at that moment."
5) Is there anyone in your network (family, friends, old schoolmates) that have asked questions or volunteered at WAFWC during your time?
There are lot of common myths and misunderstandings about domestic violence in the news and media, so it's not uncommon for my loved ones to come to me privately with personal questions about healthy relationships and support. Domestic violence is so common (almost half of the general US population, regardless of agenda, experiences at least psychological aggression from a partner!) that I'm really glad I have my advocacy skills and experience at hand to support my loved ones, especially my fellow queer folks who aren't always comfortable going to an organization.
6) Who are you inspired by?
Right now, I'm most inspired by Black prison abolitionists who are doing important work in finding community-based methods for addressing and preventing interpersonal violence. INCITE! was one such group who published important, practical work that anyone committed to this work can use, regardless of personal background or experience, at no cost.
7) For someone who is learning about WAFWC for the first time, what would you tell them is the best way to help WAFWC fulfill its mission and serve its community? (e.g. volunteer time, donate, join conversations, etc)
The goal of any domestic violence organization is to make itself unnecessary. However, stopping violence takes not only time but also commitment from every member of a community: collective burdens take collective work to dismantle. The most helpful thing anyone can do is find ways to implement well-informed violence intervention and prevention into their own social network - and Walnut Avenue offers help with free training and resources!
8) Moments of smiles... Can you recall times with others at WAFWC that brought a smile to your face?
Working with volunteers is my favorite part of my current position! Given how emotionally heavy our work can sometimes be, I love it when group meetings get silly.
9) If you had your own flavor of mac and cheese what would it be?
A good Irish white cheddar: the sharper, the better!