I volunteer at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center as a member of the 24-hour crisis-counseling group. As a crisis counselor, I have the enormous privilege of being able to share what is often the most difficult time in a person’s life, to sit with the caller in her pain, and to hold space for her anger, grief, fear, and deep sadness. In giving her love, understanding, and acceptance at this fragile time, we open up a space for hope. When someone is traumatized in this way, the wound runs deeply. Receiving compassionate care at this time can truly make a difference in the person’s healing process. What an amazing gift I receive every time someone calls me. To be able to be a part of someone’s healing from such a senseless act, and to witness the strength, courage, and tenacity of the human spirit is a blessing in my life.
I also volunteer at a program in South Boston called Julie’s Family Learning Program. Julie’s is an amazing organization that serves young women and their children. The program offers high quality childcare and classes to prepare the women for the HYSET, applying to college, and navigating college classes. The women also receive therapy, nutrition courses, parenting classes, and life skills. I work at with the women at Julie’s to support the development of their parenting skills. The bravery I witness at Julie's is like nothing I have seen before. These women did not get the love or support that they needed growing up. As young women, all of them have made choices they regret, and every single one of them takes responsibility for herself in a way that I struggle to do and have rarely seen others accomplish. They take the risk of showing up, of trying to achieve more than they ever believed they could. They risk failing, judgment, and pursuing a different life than what they have known. I am blessed to have these women share their stories with me, to be open and honest about their parenting, both their accomplishments and shortcomings. I have the opportunity to witness where they are and have them trust me with the vulnerable truth of where they hope to go. It is a sacred space full of love, hope, and transformation.
Julie’s place and the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center have changed my life. Working at these programs helps me make sense of my own life and find meaning. Both places have given me the great gift of walking with someone else on her path through life, to hold space for someone to be who she is right now, to hold her hand through dark times, to help her look forward at where she wants to go, and to glimpse the grace and strength of the human heart. Witnessing the strength and courage of others gives me strength and courage I never thought I could have. Supporting their growth opens up space for mine.