CCASA Volunteer Story
My Journey with CCASA
I started volunteering with CCASA ten years ago, at the ripe age of 22. I first learned of the organization after watching a guest speaker from CCASA do a presentation in a Sociology course I was taking at the time. Immediately I was fascinated by the potential volunteer opportunities and inspired by their mission—I knew it was a fit. Impressed by CCASA’s extensive volunteer training I looked forward to my journey which started on the crisis line.
Admittedly I was nervous about my first crisis line shift, though found comfort in knowing a professional was merely a phone call away if support was needed. Throughout my crisis line ‘career’ there were many calls, both good and bad, either leaving me inspired by human strength or, on the flip-side, questioning how human beings could be so horrible to each other. That said the good calls over shadowed the bad, every single time.
Throughout my CCASA career there’ve been plenty of note-worthy moments but I’ll pull from the one that has always stood out to me. I was working the crisis line one Thanksgiving, it was a pretty quiet day as far as calls were concerned, but one came in late afternoon from a very distraught sounding man. While the call started out rather frantic on his end, as he experienced his first flashback induced panic attack, it quickly transitioned into shame once the reality of disclosure sank in. I remember curiously observing how the emotional journey of a male survivor of assault seemed riddled with an entirely different level of shame and secrecy. The conversation evolved to a place where we were able to discuss the shame, and sentiments related, on almost what I would consider a friendship level. I’m still not entirely sure why, but I did feel a distinct affinity with him. Life can be mysterious that way. When closing the conversation he admitted suicide had crossed his mind over the years, that he never thought there to be benefit from disclosure and thanked me for the gift. It was one of the few calls where I definitely had to stifle back tears, where I felt a sense of pride and humanity glowing from the inside. All I could think was, “This is what life is about.”
I left CCASA for a few years only to return, and in those few years away learned a cherished lesson when reflecting on my journey with the organization; true humanitarianism is a calling, it’s not about money or praise. I’ve witnessed this not only in my own actions but from the phenomenal, passionate professionals and volunteers I’ve had the utmost honor to work and learn from through the years. Yet my most valued teaching came from the clients who’ve been able to demonstrate the true definition of human strength, a definition only discovered through a willful and courageous journey toward self love and freedom.