Are you passionate about helping others? The Victim Center’s volunteer advocates offer crucial support and comfort to victims of violent and sexual crimes.
“Victims of violent crimes have often had something taken from them; a sense of security and safety that they will struggle for years to regain. To be alone, in a hospital, with no one to call, is something many of us might never imagine. To have the support of that Advocate, the information they share, and the hope they can give, is invaluable to the beginning of their healing process.”
-Andrea, Volunteer Victim Advocate
Q. What are the requirements for volunteering as an advocate?
A. Volunteer advocates must be 21 years of age or older, pass a criminal background check, complete an initial interview process, and attend required training. They must also have access to a car and a telephone.
Q. What is the time commitment for being an advocate?
A. Advocates select two or three shifts per month based on their schedule and availability. The Victim Center office phone is generally open Monday-Thursday, 8:00 am – 6:00 pm. Volunteer advocate shifts cover the remaining time periods, so that our crisis hotline is staffed 24/7. Shifts may include evenings, weekends, and holidays.
All advocates also attend a monthly advocate meeting at which we offer continuing education, networking, and support.
Q. What type of calls can I expect?
A. Some calls require only a telephone response, during which you may offer emotional support, victim education, or make referrals to immediate resources for victims. However, you may be asked to travel to local hospitals, law enforcement agencies, or secure crime scenes to assist victims during your shifts.
Q. Are men allowed to be advocates?
A. Yes. The Victim Center serves all victims of violent and sexual crimes, regardless of age or gender. Our volunteer advocates may be male or female, although we always have a female on call with our male advocates in case a victim needs to be seen at a hospital.
Q. What if I get a call that I’m not comfortable handling?
A. The safety and comfort of our volunteers is just as important to us as that of the victims we serve. Our comprehensive training process will equip you to handle most calls, but we also staff each shift with a seasoned mentor advocate and a staff person on call. These layers of support ensure that each victim receives the full support that she/he needs at the time of the call, and that our volunteer advocates are supported as well.
Q. What is the training process for volunteer advocates?
A. New advocates complete 48 hours of training, including initial training and mentoring time with a seasoned advocate. While you can start taking call shifts after completing the initial training, you will meet one on one with our volunteer coordinator after each shift until your 48 hours are complete.
After your initial training days, you can accrue training hours through independent study, monthly advocate meetings, partner agency trainings or conferences, one-on-one meetings, and more. Certain college or graduate coursework may also qualify as training hours.
Our initial training is offered in February, May, and October.
Q. I’m ready to take the next step to help provide hope and healing to victims in my community. What do I need to do?
A. Contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Paula Tindell at 417-863-7273, for more information or to receive an application. Thank you for your interest in supporting our mission in this way!