We recently shared a short story on Instagram about two young siblings who arrived at our Emergency Sanctuary close to midnight. They were tired, hungry, and in need of baths. After bowls of mac and cheese, glasses of milk, bubble baths, and Berenstain Bears they fell fast asleep. Thanks to the incredible work of our Emergency Sanctuary volunteers, the younger child woke up smiley and ready to play. The older one slept soundly as a new volunteer started her shift. Entering foster care is a traumatic experience but our Sanctuary program offers children a “soft landing” into the loving arms of our committed and supportive volunteers.
We could not do this work without our extraordinary volunteers. Teresa Ciabattari, Professor of Sociology and Chair of Women’s and Gender Studies at Pacific Lutheran University, is one of those volunteers. Teresa was recently interviewed about her volunteer experience by the Tacoma Weekly. And she has more to say about what it’s like to volunteer for Amara in one of our Emergency Sanctuary homes:
I have been volunteering with Amara Pierce County since they opened in December 2016. When I heard about the new emergency sanctuary, I was called to get involved because I believe that we, as a community, have a collective responsibility to care for each other. Our community owes it to these children and families to help ease their transition through a difficult time. I enjoy being able to spend time with the kids doing what it is kids do: playing, going on outings, reading stories, helping them with dinner, bath time, and bedtime. It is really special to be able to provide care and comfort, and a bit of fun, to a child who is in a new environment and going through a challenging transition.
Bedtime is especially meaningful. This can be a vulnerable time for children, and I focus on being present with them as they wind down from the day and settle into rest. Sometimes the kids are scared. Sometimes they are restless. Sometimes, like many kids, they just want a few more minutes of play before bedtime. I keep them company until they fall asleep. Many of the younger kids won’t remember the people and activities at Amara during their brief stay, but, as a friend put it, they will remember the feeling of being cared for. That feeling of safety and care is something that will stick with them, and I’m glad to be a small part of that.
Thank you to Teresa and to all of our volunteers who make a profound impact on the lives of children who are experiencing trauma. You can find out more about how to volunteer here. We’d love to hear from you!