I have always believed “To whom much is given, much will be required” (Luke 12:48). Even before I began to grow in my faith, I felt that the gifts I have should not only benefit me.
For as long as I can remember I have desired to work in the helping field. During my undergraduate studies, I was a tutor for high school students and mentor for lower classmen. I saw this as a way to use my experiences to help others. I found my passion for working in the mental health field after completing my bachelor’s degree. While working in low income and rural communities encouraging people to make healthier lifestyle choices, I began to notice a gap between where the individuals were in their readiness for change and the information I was providing. I realized that to assist people effectively I needed to do more listening and meeting them where they were and less talking. It was also during this time that I began mentoring pre-teen and adolescent girls which I found rewarding.
Fast forward to an opportunity to work in a children’s residential program that allowed me the chance to merge my desire to help others and leave a positive impact on young people. I first came into contact with Ascent 121 (www.Ascent121.org) while working in the residential setting. Ascent 121 provides a continuum of care for teen survivors of human trafficking and their families. At the facility where I worked, they were providing adjunct services to a group of teens. I was able to become familiar with the staff of Ascent 121 and the vision for the organization and their clients. After leaving the residential setting I was able to create a partnership between my university and Ascent 121. I became their first training practicum student during the 2018-2019 school year. I loved being able to grow in my passion for psychological health and helping adolescents’ transition into young adults. I also appreciated the fact that Ascent 121 is a faith-based organization that helps keep me encouraged on my personal faith journey.
After my training rotation was complete, I continued to feel passionate about the agency and the work that they do and wanted to stay in touch with the agency. I have been able to volunteer at training engagements and fundraisers to raise funds and awareness to combat commercial sexual exploitation in Indiana. As far as how I stay engaged, I would have to thank the volunteer coordinator and other staff. As an agency, they make it a point to stay connected to volunteers like me. The coordinator will reach out with opportunities for me to attend events on behalf of the organization and reach out to just check on my well-being. I would encourage people to volunteer in places where they have a passion or interest and not just somewhere that looks good on a resume or sounds good when you tell others about it. I think it’s important that volunteering doesn’t become another job or responsibility but a chance for you to share your time or gifts with others.