Volunteers Line Up to Help During Covid Surge

Each year, thousands of survivors and their loved ones seek support from the National Sexual Assault Hotline (NSAH), where they are served bytrained staff and volunteers. As hotline demand has surged in the last year, so, fortunately, has the number of people stepping up to help.

Hotline volunteers previously had to attend in-person trainings in Washington, D.C. With the emergence of the pandemic, this was no longer possible, so the NSAH volunteer management team transitioned the full training course to be accessible online.

“Over the past few years, the NSAH volunteer management team has worked with an increased focus on volunteer recruitment in order to meet the needs of the hotline,” says Sydney Solan, NSAH volunteer program manager.

The NSAH volunteer program has more than 400 volunteers. This marks a growth of approximately 300 volunteers over the span of three years. To keep up with this growth, the volunteer management team is investing in community-building tools to keep volunteers engaged and connected with one another.

“To help retain and facilitate community amongst volunteers, we created peer groups to help connect NSAH volunteers with other volunteers in their area. These groups are maintained by volunteer liaisons who serve as leaders within the group,” says Solan. “I also host monthly listening sessions for volunteers to speak about any questions or concerns they may have.”

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, volunteers are also contributing more time to the program. In 2020, volunteers devoted over 28,000 hours to the hotline.

“The quarantine and stay-at-home orders have led to volunteers being able to contribute more time than they previously could, which is needed because we’re also seeing an increase in hotline traffic,” says Solan.

Aditi Singh, a hotline volunteer since October 2019, has been one of the many to answer the call during the pandemic.

“I have tried to volunteer more during COVID-19 because, due to quarantine, this may be the only resource someone has access to, particularly for kids facing abuse at home,” says Singh.

For volunteers of the hotline, their work is rewarding in tangible ways.

“Volunteering has been an incredibly rewarding experience… I have improved my own active listening skills while volunteering with RAINN. Whether it be by providing these survivors with mental health resources or information about the medical SAFE exam, I want to make a difference in the life of each visitor I talk to,” says Singh.

To learn more about RAINN’s volunteer program, click here. Please note that due to the growth of the program, volunteer trainings have been temporarily paused. To be notified when trainings resume, please submit the interest form on the volunteer website.

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