by Alisha Goel, Emergency Sanctuary Volunteer
Growing up, I was always searching for a volunteer opportunity that felt truly meaningful. Sorting donations and spending a day cleaning up my community felt rewarding in their own way, but I never truly felt like I could see the impact of my time.
A few months ago, I started volunteering at one of Amara’s Emergency Sanctuaries. The Emergency Sanctuaries provide a temporary home to kids who were recently removed from their homes for their own safety. Often, children who have just been removed from their homes find themselves waiting, feeling confused and alone, in state offices, doctors’ offices or hotel rooms. The Sanctuaries’ goal is to make this stressful and difficult time less traumatic by supplying toys, home-cooked food, clothing, trauma-informed care, and support.
Since I started volunteering, I have had a lot of fun shifts: playing board games, watching Frozen numerous times, and reading bedtime stories. These shifts have truly been rewarding. Seeing the kids smile and laugh allows me to feel like I am taking part in making a time of crisis just a little bit less stressful for the them.
There have also been challenging shifts and, though extremely rare, I have found them to be the most fulfilling by far. Many of the children who stay at the Sanctuary are going though one of the most, if not the most, stressful and difficult time in their lives. I quickly learned that if I can be there for these kids with love, patience, and understanding – regardless of their emotional response to their situation – then I will truly be making a difference in their lives.
I still have a lot to learn, but I hope that with every minute I spend at the Sanctuary I can get a little bit closer to this goal. In this way and many more, I have truly been able to grow personally through this experience and learn more about myself than I ever could have imagined.
In a few months, I will be leaving Seattle to start a new chapter in my life. Leaving Seattle is a bittersweet feeling for many reasons but I think the biggest is knowing that the Emergency Sanctuary program is unique to Amara. If you live near Seattle or Tacoma, Washington and are looking for a rewarding use of your time, I highly recommend stopping by a Volunteer Information Meeting at Amara. I promise you won’t regret it, and it just might lead you to the most fulfilling experience of your life.