By Erin Rook, Source Weekly
Becky Winters is working off a debt of gratitude. In 2001, when the then 27-year-old mother of two needed help leaving a dangerously abusive relationship in Prineville, Saving Grace provided the housing deposit she needed to help her family start a new life in Redmond.
“I vowed at that time, that I would somehow repay the help I had been given. Over the next few years I worked while completing my bachelors degree and raising my children, telling myself I was too busy to volunteer,” Winters explains. “In 2010, I made a commitment to complete the training to become a direct service volunteer for Saving Grace. That decision changed my life.”
Today, Winters facilitates a weekly support group for survivors in Redmond. (Saving Grace also offers groups in Bend, Prineville and Madras.) She has also staffed the organization’s 24-hour hotline. Now a single mother with teenagers, Winters is finishing her master’s degree in counseling at Oregon State University–Cascades while interning at Sage View Psychiatric Center, a short-term inpatient facility for people in acute psychiatric crisis. She also completed her practicum with Saving Grace, offering one-on-one counseling to survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and has shared her personal story in trainings.
Winters is clearly busy, but she says that volunteering—especially for a cause she is so passionate about—is anything but a chore. Rather, it’s a life-changing experience worth making time for.
“The survivors I work with teach me something new every time I work with them. There has not been one time that I left the room after working with these individuals that I felt like time had been wasted or energy squandered,” Winters explains. “Watching these women reclaim their identity while taking part in a journey of rediscovery is immeasurably rewarding. Continually witnessing the resiliency of the human spirit gives back to me ten fold the time and energy I invest in volunteering; it gives me hope.”
Though modest about her contributions (“Saving Grace is the one doing all the work,” she defers), Winters acknowledges that volunteers play a vital role in nonprofit organizations. Whether they provide administrative support or do direct service, like facilitating support groups, providing care for children who’ve experienced violence, or answering hotline calls—volunteers help bridge the gap between the community’s needs and the organization’s financial resources.
What does Saving Grace contribute to Bend?:
“Saving Grace offers support and safety. I don’t mean just through shelter. Support group provides a space to go even if they’re still in that abusive relationship. The hotline gives a sense that they can pick up the phone and call.”