Sunday, January 8, 2012

volunteer spotlight: donna weinman

“I’m your advocate. Do you know what that means? I’m here to support you. I don’t need to know what happened. I don’t need to ask you questions. All I do is be there if you want me to be there and tell you what’s going to happen if you want to know. And go through the entire process with you for as long as you want me there. Everything you choose to share with me is confidential.” With these words, Donna Weinman opens doors and changes lives.

Donna advocates for individuals who have been sexually assaulted. She supports them as they move through what can be a very confusing and difficult experience. Currently, she has about 5 or 6 individuals that she’s supporting, all at various stages of healing and prosecution. Sometimes she meets the individual at the hospital soon after they’ve been assaulted. Other times, she’s involved later in the process.

Donna stays with the assaulted individual until the case is resolved, providing resources, tools, and most importantly a presence. If charges are brought and it goes to trial she stays with them until the very end. Beyond that, she offers them the opportunity to continue talking with her if they so desire.

The work is “richly rewarding and deeply painful at the same time,” says Donna.

Painful, because it’s upsetting to know that there are others out there who are facing this alone, without any idea of what to do, or what will happen next. The reward, she said comes when you see the change you’ve made in a person’s life, “One of my clients said something to me that really says it all, ‘No one has ever stood up for me. You stood up for me.’”

Donna Wienman has always enjoyed volunteering. Before joining ywca’s team, she volunteered for 12 years on a suicide crisis line. During this time she recognized that a number of callers experienced sexual assault or violence in their lives. While her work at ywca is different, this experience, combined with ywca’s thorough training made it easy for her to transition into volunteering for the Sexual Assault Program.

Donna recognizes that there is a huge need for her services, and aside from helping people, she sees volunteering as an excellent opportunity to help herself grow as an individual and community member. In her own words, “Part of it is the camaraderie and the purpose that make it very special.” For those considering volunteering, Donna says not to be intimidated by the details, “just show up, and you’ll love it.”

Her service and commitment don’t go unnoticed. “Donna is committed to victims and their rights. She believes this work is important and really likes making a difference in her community,” said Joan Renner, Director of the Sexual Assault Program.

ywca clark county appreciates all of the wonderful volunteers who commit nearly 40,000 hours a year to supporting our programs and services, and welcomes those interested in volunteering to attend the Intro to Volunteering free class at our Community Building on Tuesday, January 10th at 6pm.

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