That Time I… volunteered at a women’s shelter

Gabrielle Thompson is a junior communication major with a concentration in communication. She is the features editor for The Current.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to attend a combined celebration and leadership conference for my sorority, Sigma Delta Tau. The eventful weekend, held in New York City, brought together over 500 women, including active members, board members and alumnae of the national sorority, to celebrate 100 years of sisterhood. While there, I had the chance to volunteer at a women’s shelter in the city. This experience definitely opened my eyes and put into perspective how much philanthropy aids women and children who are survivors of domestic abuse.

I was beyond excited when I was first told I would be traveling to New York for Sigma Delta Tau’s centennial celebration as a chapter delegate. I didn’t know exactly what was in store, but I knew it would be an experience I would never forget.

That Saturday morning, I met up with five other girls, a few national board members and alumnae and the CEO for one of our national philanthropies, JWI. It was then that we were told we were selected to go on a special volunteer opportunity because of our involvement and philanthropic contributions to JWI. JWI works to empower women by teaching women about financial security, speaking out about domestic violence and much more.

After a short and jarring subway ride, we arrived at our destination. The shelter supplies apartments for women and children who need a place to stay while they rebuild after leaving their abusive partner. They also provide daycare services for children when their mother is out running errands or at work. Many of our active members and alumnae of the sorority donated items such as backpacks, school supplies and books for the children living in the shelter.

Our particular task for the day was to help build and re-organize a children’s library in the daycare area of the shelter. The purpose of the library is to bring comfort and a feeling of safety to the children who have already experienced so much trauma in their short lives. The library we worked on held over a hundred books of different genres and lengths for all ages.

The part that impacted me the most was getting to meet a woman and her eight-year-old daughter who resided at the women’s shelter. Seeing how grateful the mother and daughter truly were for our donation and work made my day. The little girl was so excited to be able to read new books. Doing good work is one thing, but seeing how it positively affects others really makes a difference.

Volunteering at this women’s shelter reawakened my love for JWI and all their work. Being a sister of a sorority has made me a part of something bigger than myself, and I honestly am so proud to raise money and awareness for all the good that JWI does for women across the United States.

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