A blog post explaining how volunteers can get involved at Safe+Sound.
Volunteers play a critical role in helping Safe+Sound Somerset achieve its mission: to empower survivors of domestic abuse and to engage the community to break the cycle of violence. The business community, community groups, and individuals all make up our dedicated team of volunteers. From the student volunteer who organizes a gift card drive to help meet our shelter residents’ basic needs to the volunteer advocate supporting our client at court, every act of support and kindness to those traumatized by abuse is critical to their healing and so very much appreciated.
What volunteer roles are available at S+SS?
The ways in which S+SS is engaging with volunteers continues to evolve with the changing landscape of COVID-19. Only recently have we started to invite limited numbers of volunteers to participate in on-site opportunities.
Our volunteer opportunities fall into three categories dependent on the amount of training required for the task:
- No Formal Training Required – These jobs include organizing a gift card collection at your place of work or with a community organization, or participating as a Social Media Ambassador who “Follows” S+SS’s pages and “Shares” our posts with their own social networks. We provide instructions and assistance to help you succeed in these independent opportunities.
- Orientation Required – After a short intake and instructions, volunteers are prepared to take on the task at hand which might include helping out with special events, research and data entry projects, and more.
- 40-Hour DV Training Required – Volunteers who want to engage in roles that involve direct contact with clients, in-depth knowledge about domestic violence, or confidentiality conditions must complete our comprehensive training and background checks. At completion, volunteers may participate in SPEAK Community Outreach & Education, Court/Legal Advocacy, Domestic Violence Response Team, Financial Empowerment Center, Shelter Support, and Call/Text Hotline.
Note: Group, corporate and youth involvement fall in the “Orientation” and “No Formal Training” categories.
How does the 40-Hour Domestic Violence Training work?
Two sessions are planned each year, in the Spring and Fall, and run for approximately ten weeks. A blended learning model is utilized, including online course modules, independent assignments, and meetings (currently all remote). S+SS clients are not eligible to participate in this program. Applicants must be 18 or older.
Beginning September 2021, Safe+Sound Somerset’s Fall 40-hour DV Training will be accessible to the Deaf community thanks to a collaboration with the NJ Deaf Advocacy Project.
What is the Deaf Advocacy Project and how is S+SS involved?
The NJ Deaf Advocacy Project (DAP) is a project of the NJ Coalition to End Domestic Violence (NJCEDV). DAP is run by and for the Deaf community and is the only project in NJ focusing on domestic and sexual violence in the Deaf community. For more information on DAP, see https://njcedv.org/deaf-advocacy-project/.
New Jersey is in great need of additional Deaf Advocates and accessibility of the required training is a critical first step. One of the requirements to serve as a Deaf Advocate is the completion of the 40-hour Domestic Violence Training. We are working with DAP to make the training accessible by incorporating the following:
- Transcription and signing videos to online modules containing voice-overs.
- Signing to voiced videos that don’t have captioning.
- Resources such as safety planning, power & control and hotline numbers specific to deaf survivors.
- Live translators and captioning at video/in-person training meetings.
Deaf and hearing participants will train together in order to: 1) Increase the number of Deaf Advocates throughout NJ to support individuals who are deaf and experiencing domestic violence; and 2) Educate S+SS volunteers in Deaf culture and the specific resources available to deaf survivors.
If you are interested in training as a NJ Deaf Advocate, email [email protected] for more info.
How do I apply to become a S+SS volunteer?
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer at Safe+Sound Somerset, go to www.safe-sound.org/volunteer and submit the Volunteer Interest Form. After we receive your form, you will be contacted by our Volunteer Coordinator with information on next steps based on your interests and the current needs of the organization. Please note that our Volunteer Coordinator is part-time and may take a week or so to contact you. You would then receive and be asked to complete the Volunteer Application. Once accepted, you will then be scheduled for training.
Once training and background checks are complete, volunteers meet with the staff program coordinator(s) in their area(s) of interest for role specific orientation and training. Depending on the role, you may shadow an experienced volunteer before volunteering independently.
Volunteers are encouraged to engage in an open dialog about their volunteer experience, always feel free to ask questions and share any concerns with their staff supervisor or the agency volunteer coordinator. We depend on you; your success as a volunteer is our success.
How can I help if I’m not ready to volunteer?
A type of service that EVERYONE can participate in is educating themselves about domestic violence, the warning signs of abuse, and what to do if you recognize them in your relationship or the relationship of someone you know. The more people who know about domestic violence, the better chance we have of ending the cycle. We offer educational webinars on topics related to domestic abuse and teen dating violence every month. If you are interested in learning more, check out our current offerings at www.safe-sound.org/events. If someone you know needs help or has questions, our confidential call and text hotline is available 24/7 at 866.685.1122.
Community involvement at S+SS is integral to our mission and has a profound effect on the lives of those we serve as well as the community at large. If you are interested in more information about opportunities to be of service for your workplace, your community group or yourself, please complete our volunteer interest form at www.safe-sound.org/volunteer.