July 21, 2008
I moved to the US from Scotland and was lucky enough to be able to find my new home in San Francisco. After a year, I realized that while there was plenty to do between work and play, I wanted to find a volunteer opportunity in San Francisco. A friend took me to a Volunteer Appreciation event in 1995 and the Shanti staff and volunteers I met made an immediate impression on me.
Charlie Garfield, Shanti Founder, gave a wonderful and moving speech to thank volunteers for their commitment and hard work. Shanti has created a peer-support model that is now used throughout the world. It teaches how to listen, witness, park judgements outside, provide validation and emotional/practical support for clients who may have no other people in their lives.
So, a month later, I signed up for 2 weekends of intense training, learning about the organization and how to provide support to people with HIV/AIDS. I'll never forget how the training put me in touch with new ideas, people from a great variety of backgrounds and knowledge of how to deal with difficult client situations.
I was matched with a client a month later and there began a 13 year volunteer/client relationship, that has been one of the most rewarding relationships of my life. The support of the staff at Shanti, their deep compassion about the plight of so many who need emotional and/or practical support in the city has been incredible, through the years. For 10 years of my time as a volunteer, I decided to facilitate a group of volunteers as well. Frequent staff drop-ins, facilitation training and hours collection help to keep these groups going. They are important to providing an environment where volunteers can share experiences and provide support to one another.
Like virtually every charity, Shanti has had difficult times financially, causing some staff turn-over and sometimes some major changes organizationally to survive. But one thing that never changes with Shanti is their ability to adapt, but continue to provide amazing services, training and support of volunteers who are incredibly inspiring. In terms of working voluntarily for a charity that in turn reaps unexpected life rewards, Shanti is second to none.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
the incredible improvements of individuals that they serve.
What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...
how supportive they are of their volunteers.
The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
Volunteer & Volunteered, facilitated a Shanti volunteer support group.