Giving Back…Getting Back
I hit bottom. Yet somehow I kept falling even farther down. I saw no way out. I wanted to give up….let go…give into the murky darkness that swirled around me… But something happened. A touch of faith. A touch of kindness and my world completely turned around.
I had been disempowered most of my life. I had been beaten and bullied by both my parents and later kidnapped and help by a crazed and violent rapist. I ended up at the mercy of professionals who mostly told me they had the answers for my life. Then I met someone….a special woman, a counselor, who taught me how to walk empowered. That woman and my faith helped me move from living as a victim to living free. I went back to school and became a Social Worker. I’ve been given so much. More than I ever could have dreamed possible. Now I desire to give back and help others realize their dreams. I want to show hope, the kind that will help people push forward and live their best lives.
What better place to do that than right here at The Halton Women’s Centre. What’s pulled me to volunteer at the centre, is its core beliefs - engaging, educating and empowering women.
Engaging – The director of the centre, Melvina Walter, has an unique ability that engages the women who walk through the door. Women who come in feeling defeated, usually leave knowing they’ve been heard, accepted and respected. Melvina has set that tone and it has trickled to all the volunteers who lend their gifts and talents to help create an environment that is safe, supportive and affirming. Engageing women gives hope.
Educate – The programs offered at the centre are chosen carefully. All focus on educating women to nuggets of truths that they may not have known before. Truths that encourage them to fight for their rights, their dreams, their freedom. I believe knowledge is power. Once you have the right knowledge for a situation, nothing can defeat you. You can run with it and wield it in ways that bring down strongholds that have kept you stuck. Educating women gives courage.
Empower – Being engaged and educated always leads to being empowered. This is the catalyst that pushes someone towards complete freedom. This is what everyone needs. To be empowered to do what they need to push against the negative things that try to hold them down. Empowerment gives the essence to take back in life what was taken from you.
I run self-esteem workshops at the centre and have seen women come into the groups discouraged and defeated. I have watched them grasp onto truths, realize hope and gain power to work towards resolving problems in their life situations.
As a volunteer, I’ve not only given but have received so much back. I’m privileged to be a small part along the journey of the women I work with. Their reaching for truths and freedom is a constant encouragement to me and a reminder that we’re all in some ways connected to each other.
Being a volunteer at The Halton Women’s Centre has given me a platform to share what I’ve learned in my own life and to receive back what others have learned in theirs. That reciprocal feeling is one that makes being a part of the centre the most rewarding.
By Nikki Rosen, author of In The Eye of Deception