Volunteer Appreciation Week Spotlight: Erica Meurk

1) When did you first get involved with W.O.M.A.N., Inc.?
I first got involved with W.O.M.A.N., Inc. in July 2014, when I attended the 40-hour training in working with domestic violence survivors co-hosted by W.O.M.A.N., Erica -- hikingInc. and The Riley Center. I had been looking to gain experience as a phone-line counselor as a way to determine whether I wanted to go back to school to become a therapist.

2) What inspired you to do anti-violence work?
My inspiration to volunteer with W.O.M.A.N., Inc. had more to do with assisting people who are struggling with difficult situations in recognizing their strengths than with working to combat violence, per se. I had a decade-long career in non-profit development and communications before moving from Seattle to the Bay Area and deciding to work toward becoming a therapist. Through my work in non-profit communications, I often interviewed community members and donors in order to write newsletter articles and blog posts – and I found that these conversations were always a highlight of my work week. Eventually, I came to understand that the interviews I was conducting – which focused on people’s accomplishments, values and hopes for the future – had a lot in common with individual therapy sessions.

Erica13) What kind of opportunities have you been involved with here?

Since September 2014, I’ve been volunteering on the 24-hour support line on Tuesday afternoons. Since I usually take my shift from the office, I’ve had the good fortune of getting to know some of the organization’s lovely, committed staff. I feel honored to be part of an amazing team.

4) How has your involvement impacted your life?
Volunteering at W.O.M.A.N., Inc. has been my first foray into peer counseling, and it’s been extremely valuable to me both personally and professionally. I am continually impressed and inspired by strength and resiliency of the people I talk to on the support line – and heartened by how powerful it can be to listen respectfully and help people recognize that they have the resources to work toward healthier relationships and happier lives. In fact, volunteering on the support line has helped me realize that I want to focus on people’s assets and strengths as much as I can as I begin my work as a therapist.

What W.O.M.A.N, Inc. has to say about this stellar volunteer:

  • “Erica has been with WI since August of 2014 but it seems like she’s been with us for much longer.  She does so well as a peer counselor, and of the times I’ve witnessed her on the support line, she makes sure each person calling is given the space to process and be heard.  I imagine Erica being a great coach or a therapist!  She has always been very communicative and reliable.  Whenever she works remotely she doesn’t hesitate to email us or check in when she has questions relating to a situation she had just encountered.”

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