Thursday, March 31, 2011

volunteer spotlight: Frank Aff

In May of 2009, Frank Aff was visiting Dozer Days, thinking about mentoring children when he came across the CASA display table. In conversing with the representative, Frank found what he was looking for, plus some. CASA works directly with ywca clark county, and Frank found this even more intriguing. He states, “When I learned more and saw the partnership CASA had with the ywca I was really interested to be a part of it. I’m familiar with the services the ywca provides to the community and see great value in those services.”

Frank started volunteer training that September. He soon discovered that besides fulfilling his desire to work with children, this also provided a great opportunity to learn about the legal system. Frank was provided with many resources, and support and guidance from the CASA Program. With his new found knowledge-base and support from the CASA Program, Frank felt confident visiting his client for the first time.

It’s been over a year since that first visit, and Frank finally sees the case coming to an end. During this experience, Frank said he learned a lot about the legal system, the struggles of children and families facing legal intervention, and about hidden and illicit threats to our community. In addition to this personal growth, Frank found the experience to be beneficial to his family as well. He says that they recognize the impact that he’s making in the lives of others, and that makes them proud. His work, which encourages community involvement, has also been very supportive.

When asked what elements of volunteering with CASA have been most rewarding, Frank speaks of personal fulfillment. Knowing that you’re helping someone, and getting to be immersed into somebody else’s life have been the highlights of his experience. “The boy that I’m a CASA for is 4 years old, and when I see him he’s so excited, and I’m just his buddy. I enjoy being able to provide that healthy, consistent relationship.”

Frank doesn’t see an end in sight to his volunteering with the CASA Program. Besides his passion for the work, he’s also well aware of the funding cuts that CASA and partner organizations are facing. To those considering volunteering, Frank says, “Anybody who wants to make a difference, particularly if they have a heart for youth and for children, will find this to be great way to engage, knowing that you will have the info and support that you need to be able to be effective in that role.”

Frank’s passion and commitment do not go unnoticed. Jo Waddell, Director of the ywca clark county CASA Program, recommended Frank for the Volunteer Spotlight. “Frank is a great volunteer. He builds excellent working relationships with the professionals and family members. He’s able to focus on the child’s welfare and parent accountability in a way that is encouraging and hopeful. Most importantly, Frank is a good role model for his CASA child, and the child looks up to and confides in him. I take comfort in knowing that this child’s welfare is in good hands with Frank.”

March 2011 Y's Words

On the last Wednesday of each month I have the privilege of entering the ywca building on Main street and working with a dedicated group of community volunteers and staff members at the monthly board meetings. At every one of these meetings, I sit across from a framed sign of the ywca mission which stares back at me with words of empowerment and of social justice. I try to soak up these words and apply them to our discussions and to the decisions we make during these meetings.

As board members for the ywca, we take an oath to uphold the ethical standards of “integrity, acceptance, non-violence, great care and confidentiality.” As the vice president of board development, it is my role to create opportunities for board members to think more deeply about their experiences with the ywca and how to apply this oath in meaningful ways for both the member and for the organization.

I know that when each and every one of us is asked what concepts from our oath means to them, it will be flavored with the spices of their own lives. When we are asked what something like “acceptance” means to us, a host of our own experiences will color our interpretation. In our board meetings, I try to provide opportunities for members to think about what our mission and our oath means from our individual points of view, share those views and hear how another person thinks and interprets them.

The art of listening to others is not an easy one when we find ourselves in conflict. The ywca mission which focuses on promoting social justice and empowering disenfranchised groups of people requires individuals to challenge their own biases and assumptions. Each month we set aside time to involve ourselves in hands-on ways that provide opportunity to uncover our deeply seeded biases.  I am honored to participate on a board that not only promotes this work with and for others, but is willing to do the hard work themselves.

Sarah Theberge, M.A.
VP of Board Development

partner spotlight: Kohl’s Kares

The Classic Wines Auction is the ywca clark county’s largest fundraiser and requires hundreds of volunteers to help with setup and various assignments throughout the evening. One way the ywca recruits volunteers is through the Kohl’s Cares – Associates in Action program.

Associates in Action is Kohl’s community service and grant making program. The ywca submitted a volunteer request application for the Classic Wines Auction, and was provided five Clark County Kohl’s employees to setup the day of the auction. In addition to having five incredibly hardworking volunteers, the ywca also received a $500 grant to be used for any of our programs that serve children.

Since 2001, Kohl’s Cares – Associates in Action has contributed over 828,000 volunteer hours and $21.3 million in donations throughout the United States. The ywca is so grateful for organizations like Kohl’s that recognize that every dollar counts and every hand helps.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

ywca clark county program director invited to speak in Belarus

Vancouver, Wash. — ywca clark county is proud to announce that SafeChoice Domestic Violence Program Director, Debra Adams has been invited to speak on the topic of domestic violence in Minsk, Belarus from March 22nd through March 27th.

Starting out as a volunteer in 1994, Debra became Director of the SafeChoice Program in 2005. With a focus on Gender, Culture and History, Debra received her BA in 2003 and her MA in 2006. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD in Leadership and Organizational Change, as well as certificates in various domestic violence studies.

Debra’s long term goal is to do work on a National and International level, so when she received notice of the opportunity in Belarus, she immediately responded with a letter, resume and an article she’d written that chronicled her journey working at the ywca. Three days later, she received an email from the YWCA of Belarus inviting her to speak at the March 25th conference, “Combating Domestic Violence in Belarus: International and Local Experience.” Also while in Belarus, Debra will speak to college students and their social service provider about her experiences, and will attend a YWCA general assembly.

“I was really thrilled to hear the US Embassy would pay for my expenses: airfare, hotel, and interpreter. When they said that, I knew the y would support me. My whole 16 year career with the ywca has shown me that if they can support me, they will.” said Debra, when reflecting on the opportunity.

Debra continues to fulfill her career and personal goals. Because of her actions and interests, communities surrounding ywca clark county and YWCA of Belarus will gain valuable information and resources. Debra hopes to provide Belarus with experiences that could help them develop their responses. “If the people of Belarus can learn from our mistakes, maybe it will speed up their evolution of having good responses and intervention more quickly.” YWCA of Belarus has a lot of experience with human trafficking. Debra hopes to bring back information on that topic as well as cultural insights to help ywca clark county reach out and appeal to the local Eastern European and Russian communities.

Debra will journal her experiences at Community members are encouraged to visit her blog and share this once in a lifetime opportunity.

About the SafeChoice Program

The SafeChoice Program of ywca clark county commit to advocate for, educate, and support those affected by domestic violence. They strive to collaborate with our community partners to present the most helpful resources, information, and education about domestic violence.

About ywca clark county
ywca clark county serves more than 11,000 people each year who are victims of domestic violence, homelessness, sexual assault, child abuse and neglect, and oppression, as well as youth in foster care and incarcerated women.