Lauren O’Brien is a Jesuit Volunteer (JV) at the Women’s and Children’s Alliance. As a JV, Lauren has dedicated a year of her life to volunteer as a Client Advocate and work directly with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in our shelters. This is Lauren’s first venture to the Northwest as she grew up in Massachusetts and received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Pre-med track with a Peace & Justice Concentration at Villanova University in Pennsylvania.
Lauren explains that she had the desire to become a JV because “a year of service has been on my radar for a number of years now. At Villanova, I participated in a number of service oriented activities; I admired friends who graduated before me who went on to do a year or two of service and spoke with them often about what their year was like. There are many different service organizations out there and I applied to a few others, but in the end I chose Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest (JVCNW) because of both the commitment to the four values of JVCNW (Simplicity, Social & Ecological Justice, Spirituality, and Community) as well as being placed at the WCA. I wanted to be challenged to live into these four values with a community of other JVs (there are five of us total in Boise) and find a sustainable way to continue to live into them as an adult outside of the structure of college.”
Lauren explains that, “It was nearly 10 months ago when I decided to put domestic violence as my top placement choice. In college, much of my extracurricular activities centered around the empowerment of individuals to acknowledge personal and interpersonal dignity both amongst students at Villanova and with respect to individuals in the local, national, and global communities. I believe that the loss of dignity—of respect, safety, confidence, and (ideally) joy—is so fundamentally wrong. Domestic violence and sexual assault are two such areas that I am familiar with. I wanted to challenge myself and be challenged by others—who know a heck of a lot more than I do—to bridge my values and a particular vulnerable population that I am passionate about.”
Lauren states that the thing she she likes most the WCA is, “the supportive, passionate staff. The success of this program is without a doubt due to such positive, driven, strong, and supportive individuals who come together to create a powerful foundation upon which clients can be empowered and learn to stand strong. Between conversations I have had with individual staff members which have demonstrated unique perspectives brought to the organization, all-staff gatherings to create community within the organization and share in the WCA mission, and all of the more focused smaller meetings within respective limbs of the organization where new ideas are presented and acted upon, I have grown a great deal personally and as an advocate for victimized individuals. I have a great deal of respect for everyone who puts their energy into this organization and feel very blessed to be among these individuals.”
Lauren volunteers at the WCA forty hours a week and provides so much compassion, motivation, and an overall sense of calmness to the agency and to the clients we serve. Lauren is also working on two capacity-building projects that will help grow the programs within the agency. The WCA is always striving to provide evidence-based, trauma-informed services to our clients and community. Lauren adds, “This experience has been an incredible one so far. I always tell friends and family who ask me about my year that there are days when work is hard, days when I come home and a woman’s story has really hit me hard, but there is never a day that I do not love what I am doing. If anything, the tough days just add to the motivation for the next day.”
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