Going into a courtroom, whether it is for a custody case or filing a personal protection order, Teri Capo has seen an array of emotions from domestic abuse survivors.
“They are upset and nervous, and we keep them calm through it,” Capo said. “We just tell them to take a deep breath.”
Capo is a volunteer court advocate for S.A.F.E. House, a Henderson-based organization that helps people dealing with domestic violence.
Without her volunteering, or other volunteers at the organization, people who go to court to deal with the aftermath of domestic violence might have to face it alone.
Even though National Make A Difference Day — the largest national day of community service — is approaching Oct. 26, many organizations rely on the support of volunteers to help carry the workload year-round.
Capo and Jennifer Seaquist started volunteering at S.A.F.E. House several years ago after their organization, the Black Mountain Harley Owners Group, started to sponsor the nonprofit.
Seeing S.A.F.E. House’s need, the two didn’t want to stop there.
They went through the 32-hour training to become legal advocates, a process that has volunteers go to court proceedings with survivors of domestic violence.
“We go with them so they are not alone,” Seaquist said. “Many of the girls don’t have family support, so we are there for them.”
The course taught Seaquist and Capo about domestic violence and the criminal justice system.
“We heard from the district attorney’s office and (the Metropolitan Police Department),” Seaquist said. “They taught us about the patterns of domestic abuse and the process of personal protection orders. It was really intense.”
Both volunteers were awakened to the world of domestic violence.
“I have never been abused, so I didn’t know a lot about it,” Capo said. “I would always wonder why a woman would stay in a relationship.”
Through the training, she realized how complicated the subject was.
“It is an eye opener,” Seaquist added. “I have learned to be a lot more compassionate.”
After the course, the volunteers shadowed other legal advocates to see the work firsthand. They have been volunteering as advocates for two years.
Seaquist said she and Capo often go together to assist survivors.
“They feel a lot safer having two advocates,” she said.
Seaquist said nothing is more satisfying than the reactions they get after the day is done.
“They will give us a big hug at the end of the court appearance and thank us,” she said. “That is the reward.”
Seaquist sits on a fundraising committee for S.A.F.E. House and uses her other service hours to help plan events, such as the fifth annual Run for Shelter 5K Nov. 2 at Cornerstone Park, 1600 Wigwam Parkway.
Seaquist said she is also trying to help the organization with a new website.
For more information on S.A.F.E. House, visit safehousenv.org or call 702-451-4203.
RESIDENT HELPS NONPROFIT
THAT ASSISTS FAMILIES
Sue McEachen learned about HopeLink of Southern Nevada seven years ago from a friend who was helping at a back-to-school drive the organization was sponsoring.
HopeLink is a resource center that has assisted low-income people with programs and services that attempt to prevent homelessness and offer self-sufficiency.
“It has been around for more than 20 years, and not a lot of people have heard of it,” McEachen said.
She had done volunteer work in the past.
But seeing whom the organization supports and the fact that it is using all of its funding to help families — as opposed to using a portion on marketing or promotions, which McEachen said she has seen other nonprofits do — she wanted to stick with the organization to help.
McEachen said she now organizes the annual back-to-school event, collecting outfits, backpacks and school supplies for children who might not have those items.
“Children open their backpacks, and they are so thankful,” she said. “That’s what it’s about. You are able to see the lives you affect.”
In addition, she helps throughout the year with the organization’s other holiday drives.
McEachen said she has even gone in to help with any administrative work HopeLink needs.
For more information on HopeLink, visit link2hope.org or call 702-566-0576.
SITE LINKS WOULD-BE VOLUNTEERS
AND ORGANIZATIONS IN NEED
There are other opportunities to volunteer within the city of Henderson.
The city launched a Volunteer Partnership Program that matches residents with organizations in need. People can put down their interests, skill sets or passions, which will be matched with groups or individuals in need.
Opportunities range from clerical work and cleanups to helping seniors.
Groups can also scroll through hundreds of registered volunteers and reach out to them to gauge interest.
In the end, even though organizations rely on volunteers, it can be mutually beneficial.
“Volunteering for me is threefold,” McEachen said. Through service, she explained, she can see an immediate impact in what she does. She is also able to give without receiving anything in return, and she gets to teach her children, who volunteer alongside her, about the spirit of giving.
Seaquist said volunteers reap a lot of benefits.
“I love what I do and how I can contribute,” she said. “It is a good feeling to know I am helping someone.”
For more information on the Volunteer Partnership Program, visit cityofhenderson.com/neighborhood_services/volunteer_partnership_program.php.
Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5201.