Recognizing Yuqing Wang: A Pillars of Change Honoree

Yuqing is a 2018 Pillars of Change honoree.

It’s National Volunteer Recognition Week! Every day this week we’ll be highlighting a Sanctuary volunteer who will be honored at our Pillars of Change Volunteer Recognition Event on May 10th. Learn more and register for Pillars of Change.

As an international student at NYU, Yuqing Wang was curious about life in New York City outside her campus and searched for volunteer opportunities on VolunteerMatch.com where she found Sanctuary for Families.

As a native Mandarin speaker, Yuqing utilizes her language skills as a volunteer interpreter for Sanctuary’s Queens Trafficking Intervention Pro Bono Program (QTIPP). In this role, Yuqing supports Sanctuary staff, pro bono attorneys, and clients every Friday at Queens Human Trafficking Intervention Court by providing interpretation for client intakes and screenings.

“Interpretation for our clients is not as simple as translating words from one language to another,” explains Lauren Chung, Administrative Assistant, Anti-Trafficking Initiative.

“Many of the clients within the QTIPP program are vulnerable immigrants from East Asia and it is very difficult for them to recount experiences of abuse and trauma.”

Despite this, Yuqing approaches these intakes with extreme sensitivity and she becomes the client’s voice for the duration of the intake. “I can recall many cases in which a client walked into the office nervous and walked out with a smile on their faces. That’s one of the things I enjoy most about volunteering,” Yuqing explains.

In just over a year of volunteering at Sanctuary, Yuqing has translated for over 60 client intakes, working with over 50 pro bono attorneys from Sanctuary’s law firm partners. As an experienced trauma-sensitive interpreter, Yuqing has also been assisting the Anti-Trafficking Initiative with developing an interpreter training for future volunteers.

Yuqing’s talents have not gone unnoticed by Sanctuary staff:

“We have come to rely on Yuqing’s insightfulness – if there’s an intake that we anticipate will be particularly sensitive, we do our best to have Yuqing interpret for that intake, trusting that her presence will ease the client.”

For Yuqing, volunteering at Sanctuary has been rewarding both personally and professionally. One thing Yuqing did not expect was the relationships she would develop with other people working on the project:

“I met Maggy last year, who is a retired lawyer and we have collaborated many times. She was incredibly kind and was happy to share her experiences with me and give me advice. If not for this volunteer opportunity, I would never have gained this friendship.”

Yuqing always brings the focus of any conversation about her work back to the clients she works with. For Yuqing, the most rewarding part of her work is ‘seeing that someone in difficulty is more relieved after our interview’.

We sincerely thank Yuqing for her compassion, sensitivity, and insight and hope she will continue working with Sanctuary for a long time to come.

We look forward to celebrating Yuqing and four other amazing volunteers at Pillars of Change on May 10, 2018! You can join us at Pillars of Change by registering now. We hope to see you there!

Recognizing Kayle Plotkin: A Pillars of Change Honoree

It’s National Volunteer Recognition Week! Every day this week we’ll be highlighting a Sanctuary volunteer

It’s National Volunteer Recognition Week! Every day this week we’ll be highlighting a Sanctuary volunteer who will be honored at our Pillars of Change Volunteer Recognition Event on May 10th. Learn More and Register for Pillars of Change.

Kayle Plotkin has been volunteering with Sanctuary for Families for five years, after being referred to the Volunteer Program by a friend of her daughter who had completed an internship at Sanctuary. She had previously volunteered at a domestic violence organization in Connecticut and was interested in Sanctuary’s work from the first time she heard about it.

“I believed from the beginning that the work Sanctuary does is important and focuses on those who need help the most,” Kayle explains.

Kayle volunteers her time within the Brooke Jackman Family Literacy Program at the Queens Family Justice Center, a program which is designed to engage parents and children in literacy-based activities. The Brooke Jackman Program brings together staff and volunteers to read books (in English and Spanish) with mothers and their children. The families also participate in arts and crafts and share a meal together at the end of each event. As a volunteer, Kayle has played a central role in each part of the program and has consistently gone above and beyond for our clients.

Kayle has been an unwavering and consistent presence at the Queens Family Justice Center since she started volunteering in 2013 and her ability to form strong relationships with our clients has produced some memorable interactions for Marissa Stranieri, Children’s Program Coordinator at the Queens Family Justice Center:

“Kayle is absolutely selfless and doesn’t hesitate to pitch into any task. She freely lends herself to soothe crying children, engage overwhelmed parents, or even clean up after art or a meal—she really does it all!”

Kayle’s time at Sanctuary has also resulted in some memorable moments:

“On one particular occasion, a two year old child was crying inconsolably during the reading portion of the program despite efforts from staff and the child’s mother to calm the child down.  His piercing shrieks seemed as if they wouldn’t stop, when suddenly, the crying turned into laughter. At that moment, everyone noticed Kayle dancing with the child quietly in the back of the room. She is so nurturing, she definitely has the magic touch with all of our clients!”

Kayle’s selflessness and sincere commitment to Sanctuary’s clients is commendable. “Everybody chooses something different for their ‘me time’. Some choose the gym, some choose a spa; for me, the accomplishment of working for such an amazing organization and being able to make a difference is my ‘me time’. I am so grateful to be involved and so proud.”

Pillars of Change is an opportunity to honor extraordinary volunteers like Kayle, who bring warmth, ferocity, and an infectious laugh to our staff and care and comfort to our clients.

We hope you will join us at Pillars of Change on May 10, 2018 to recognize Kayle and four other incredible volunteers for their service. You can join us at Pillars of Change by registering now!

Recognizing Diana Steele: A Pillars of Change Honoree

Diana is a 2018 Pillars of Change honoree.

It’s National Volunteer Recognition Week! Every day this week we’ll be highlighting a Sanctuary volunteer who will be honored at our Pillars of Change Volunteer Recognition Event on May 10th. Learn More and register for Pillars of Change.

Diana Steele has been volunteering with Sanctuary’s Matrimonial/Economic Justice Project since 2014, when she was connected to Sanctuary through the Attorney Emeritus Program.

Diana’s goal had always been to work in public interest law. Prior to her long career in corporate taxation, she had worked in nonprofit organizations such as The Legal Aid Society and the ACLU.

It was this deep commitment to public interest that inspired Diana to dedicate her time to Sanctuary for Families upon retiring.

“I had always wanted to get back into doing something more consistent with my initial public interest goals, and Sanctuary’s mission clearly fit that goal”, she explains.

In her time as a Sanctuary volunteer, Diana has become an invaluable member of the Matrimonial/Economic Justice Project team, a group of attorneys and advocates who provide survivors of gender violence with legal representation to obtain divorce, child support, child custody, and other relief to which they are entitled.

“Diana does research and writing on complex legal issues that arise in our cases.  She has handled everything from researching details about service of process in foreign jurisdictions to drafting arguments for appellate briefs,” explains Amanda Norejko, Director of the Matrimonial/Economic Justice Project.

Diana’s skill and productivity was evident from the beginning and her research and writing has played a central role in supporting a wide range of clients’ legal needs. Some of Diana’s achievements include collaborating on winning briefs in cases before the Appellate Division, providing research for manuals used to train new attorneys in housing law, and stepping in to support time-sensitive case while the primary attorney was on vacation.

“Diana is incredibly productive, enabling us to meet tight deadlines on major legal briefs. We have come to rely on her consistently excellent work product and she never disappoints us.” – Amanda Norejko.

Diana’s commitment to Sanctuary is undeniable, “The most rewarding parts of volunteering at Sanctuary are working with the dedicated, bright, and hardworking legal staff and witnessing the tremendous courage and resilience of Sanctuary clients.”

Pillars of Change is an opportunity to honor extraordinary volunteers like Diana, who bring skill, experience, and passion to our staff and hope and opportunity to our clients.

We hope you will join us at Pillars of Change on May 10, 2018 to recognize Diana and four other incredible volunteers for their service. You can join us at Pillars of Change by registering now!

Holiday Highlights 2017

Here are our favorite moments from our most successful holiday giving campaign to date.

Holidays can be a difficult time for many of our clients, who are often isolated from their friends, families, and communities. Donors and volunteers like you continue to provide a sense of hope and make the season brighter. Here are just a few of the ways we’ve seen that happen in the past few weeks:

1. When 146 of our highest-needs families (over 410 individuals) had their entire holiday wish lists fulfilled by incredibly generous donors – thank you for bringing joy to survivors of gender violence during this busy season.

2. Handing out thousands of  games, toys and gifts to 1,200 additional adults and children who receive services at Sanctuary.

3. Welcoming 125 amazing volunteers who wrapped, sorted and organized gifts – we couldn’t have reached so many clients without you!

4. Collecting over $30,000 in cash and gift card donations to distribute – empowering our clients to buy presents for themselves and their loved ones.

5. Celebrating the 25th Annual Horace Mann Winter Party where over 150 Sanctuary clients enjoyed a festive evening of food, student performances, and gifts for all.

6. Hanging out with the dedicated staff members who coordinate this massive movement of donations, gifts, and parties.

7. Connecting clients and donors through beautiful thank you notes.

8. Seeing how all of your efforts made the season brighter for our clients, who are taking the difficult steps to start a new life. Thank you!