Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chidren of a Lesser god

I wanted to take a break from my infertility ramblings to talk about an experience I had the other night volunteering at a domestic violence shelter near my home.  I can't discuss the details, as DV shelters have very strict confidentiality clauses, but I will try to still set the stage.

I have worked quite a bit with women survivors of domestic violence over the last year and half, but this was actually my first experience volunteering with their children.  As part of a group, I visited the shelter to basically spend some "quality time" with the kids and to do an art project; giving them some much needed positive attention.  I didn't know what to expect going in, but perhaps any expectations would have been shattered by what I actually saw.

In our group, the children were far from the toddlers I had anticipated, and I was immediately worried the projects I had planned for them might be too infantile.  They took a little while to warm up and trust that they could smile in front of me, and ask questions, but once they felt comfortable enough they dove right into the projects with enthusiasm and creativity.  Seeing the scared, shy young girl in front of me change from withdrawn and unresponsive to playful and joyous, nearly brought me to tears.  At one point, her mom came in to see what she and her siblings were up to, and they playfully shooed her away, lest she see what they had made for her before it was ready to be revealed.  I actually hated to leave at the end of our time together, but I have every intention of returning to the shelter as a volunteer next month. 

In writing about this, I was hoping to encourage some other ladies out their in the blogosphere, to look into what they can do for DV survivors in their communities.  The children, most especially, need grown ups they can feel safe with, who acknowledge them as individuals and will sit with them while they do their homework, read with them, tutor them, rock them to sleep or play a game.  They have been through so much trauma, and now they are far from home, sometimes arriving with their mom at shelter with only the clothes on their back.  One hour of your time, could literally change the way one of these children sees the world around them.  It can teach them to trust again, and to know there are people out their who don't use violence or harsh words, and who care enough about them to just sit with them for a time with no agenda of their own. 

Thanks for reading.

- Kerri


  1. I've filled out the form to volunteer but they never called me back. I've called to. Makes me sad.

  2. I'm sorry to hear that about them not getting back to you. I've had that happen before with other volunteer positions I've signed up for. I think sometimes they just get too overwhelmed with other things, especially as they are almost always short-staffed.

  3. I was going to do that then the place had to move because people complained about the place being in our neighborhood. It's sad. I understand people don't want to be around that, but I wish they could step outside the box and see if they were in their shoes you would want a place to go to.

    I am glad the place I wanted to work at has a new location--- however it is to far of a drive. By the time I am done with work and everything I would not be able to make it :( Maybe some day when my online etsy store takes off I will be able to do that in combination - rather than work.

  4. Wow, bless your heart. I think that would be a great thing to do.