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DVCC Volunteers

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DVCC’s volunteers are an integral part of the agency’s commitment to serve victims of domestic violence. The role they play in our agency is an ongoing and essential one, whether they are answering the Hotline, assisting PeaceWorks educators with a school program, responding to a MAP call, filing paperwork or helping with a community event. The DVCC currently has over 200 active volunteers who perform a wide range of services. Required by the state to complete 30 hours of training and by the DVCC to undergo further instruction if they wish to have direct client contact, our volunteers are highly knowledgeable and extremely competent when it comes to assisting DVCC staff and to advocating for victims of domestic abuse.  While this issue of eVoices features three of our long-time helpers, it is dedicated to all our volunteers, who give so much of their time to the DVCC and their caring to those we serve.

Liz Lebo balances a full-time job as an executive recruiter and a home life that includes two young children with volunteering for the DVCC. She became a certified volunteer shortly after graduating from college in 1990, and over the next 10 years helped out in the DVCC SafeHouses. More recently, she answers the Hotline one night a week. Her experiences with the DVCC over the last 20 years have taught her that no adversity is insurmountable, especially when courageous women have the right kind of support. 

“I admire the commitment and courage these women have” Lebo said. “So often they come here with no money, no job, kids to support, and they find the strength and confidence to move forward and improve their situation.”

Sandy Johnson also trained to become a certified volunteer in 1990, while she was still teaching in the Norwalk public schools. The DVCC Executive Director at the time, Joanne Lorange, came to a faculty meeting at Johnson’s school to talk about the organization. 

“It sounded interesting, so I signed up and took the training,” Johnson said. 

She first volunteered on weekends and in the summer at community events, offering information about DVCC and domestic violence. After retiring from her 35-year career as a middle school teacher, Johnson signed on to work in DVCC’s Norwalk office. Every Monday from 9 to 1, that’s where you will find her answering the phone, filing, making clients feel comfortable, watching children or doing just about anything that’s needed. 

“Unless she’s on vacation or sick, I know Sandy will be here on Monday, just as she has been for the last 14 years,” said Doris Urteaga, a counselor/advocate and the Coordinator of Spanish Speaking Services for DVCC.

Johnson is modest and unassuming about her contributions, but always feels as though she has accomplished something at the end of her day.

“When I leave here every week, I always feel I did something to help, even if it was just filing,” she said. She thought for a moment, and then added something else.

 “A woman came in not long ago who had been badly beaten up. Her daughter brought her in. I sat with them until Doris was free. When I left, the woman thanked me profusely. I felt I hadn’t really done anything, but I guess she felt that I had.”

Laraine Turlis had always wanted to give back to the community in some way, but marriage, children, a divorce, other family issues and financial struggles kept getting in the way. Finally somewhat settled, with a good job and stable family life, she began to look for opportunities. She was familiar with several organizations and, after further research, decided to take the DVCC training course.

“The training process alone was an eye-opener,” she said. “Although I was already aware of the basic issues and problems that so many people face dealing with domestic abuse, I was still stunned.”

After earning her status as a certified volunteer in the spring of 2005, Turlis jumped into multiple facets of the agency. Her first love is working with the PeaceWorks puppets, Hip, Cool and Dandy, presenting PeaceWorks programs to young school children. Additionally, she has worked at fundraisers and community awareness events, sold raffle tickets, packed materials, helped with childcare and transported items to the SafeHouses. When appropriate, she takes her own two children along. 

One day last year, her son accompanied her to the 2010 Stone Soup Event at AITE High School in Stamford, where DVCC had an information table.

“I talked continually for the three or four hours I was there to the never-ending stream of visitors to our table,” Turlis said. “As we were leaving, my son said, ‘Hey, you’re really good at this.’”

Her son was so impressed with what he had learned and witnessed that day, he took materials and ideas back to his middle school, where he started his own Domestic Violence Awareness Month campaign after gaining approval and support from the school principal. When he went on to high school, he recruited his younger sister to continue the October awareness program at the middle school.

“Touching people’s lives, teaching children alternatives to violence, seeing people’s outlook change as they learn about our cause and our services, and especially seeing my own children begin to reach out on their own to make the world a better place – that is the biggest reward of volunteering,” Turlis said. 

To find out about volunteering for the DVCC, call (203) 588-9100 and ask for the Volunteer Liaison or email volunteer@dvccct.org