Joan Lipton: determined, warm, humorous

Joan is a 2017 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.

Joan Lipton has been volunteering with Sanctuary’s Economic Empowerment Program for two years, though she has been connected to Sanctuary for much longer

Around 15 years ago, Sanctuary reached out to Joan, who was heading a forensic accounting and litigation support practice at a regional CPA firm, to enlist her help with financial aspects of clients’ divorce cases.

It was this pro bono experience that led her to think of Sanctuary for Families as she wound down her practice and decided to spend more time volunteering with organizations that assisted women. “I had always been impressed by the dedication of Sanctuary’s attorneys and the motivation of their clients”, she explains.

In her time as a Sanctuary volunteer, Joan has become an integral part of the Career Advancement Network, one of our volunteer advisory groups which supports our Economic Empowerment Program by providing resume support, mentorship, skills training, and career networking.

Joan has been a central part of the Economic Empowerment Program’s success in identifying internship and full-time employment opportunities for graduates.

Joan’s tenacity and dedication to our clients was evident from the beginning and the impact she has had on our graduates’ futures is undeniable. “The first EEP graduate I worked to place in an internship is a warm and talented woman, with a true gift for words and self-expression. I was able to arrange a three-month internship at a large CPA firm. When the internship ended, the firm moved her into a full-time paid position in the file room; and after just a few months, she was promoted to a position in the tax department, reporting to seven tax partners and managers”, she remembers.

Joan’s pride in her role and in the clients she works with is tangible. “Our clients demonstrate tremendous resilience and motivation and never cease to amaze me” she writes, “no organization that has accepted an intern has ever said to me, don’t send another!”

Pillars of Change is an opportunity to honor extraordinary volunteers like Joan, who bring warmth, determination, and humor to our staff and hope and opportunity to our clients.

We hope you will join us at Pillars of Change on May 10, 2017 to recognize Joan and four other incredible volunteers for their service. You can join us at Pillars of Change by registering now!

Gigi Yan: kind, compassionate, trustworthy

Gigi Yan is a 2017 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.

Gigi Yan had only recently moved to New York City when she started searching for local volunteer opportunities. She had just started her first semester at Columbia University and missed volunteering, something that she had always done before coming to New York.

Luckily for Sanctuary for Families, Gigi was “inspired by Sanctuary’s mission and objectives” and applied for an open position within our Anti-Trafficking Initiative.

As a native Mandarin/Cantonese speaker, Gigi utilizes her language skills as a Volunteer Outreach Assistant. In this role, Gigi supports Sanctuary staff in helping them meet the needs of a growing Chinese client population.

Gigi travels to the Queens Human Trafficking Intervention Court every Friday morning, talking to potential clients and helping them to schedule appointments to speak with attorneys for immigration consultation. She has also provided in-house Mandarin/Cantonese interpretation for legal screenings between clients and attorneys. This extremely important work requires the upmost confidentiality, sensitivity, and compassion.

Gigi’s supervisors within the Anti-Trafficking Initiative, Julina Guo and Yvonne Chen said of her, “A longtime volunteer and always eager to help, Gigi has shown tremendous talent in connecting with clients and colleagues alike with her kind spirit and fierce dedication.”

Gigi found it hard to select only one favorite memory of her time (so far!) at Sanctuary. She explains that the most rewarding part of her work is the process of “seeing people slowly trust that I am there to help them, open up, and seek help”.

She also has piece of advice for others, something that she has learned from meeting with survivors: “we should all take a moment to hear someone else’s life story. Individual stories help to eliminate stereotypes and prejudice that we have unconsciously put on people who we do not know”.

We sincerely hope that the Anti-Trafficking Initiative team, our clients, and Sanctuary as a whole will benefit from Gigi’s dedication, insight, and passion for a long time to come.

We look forward to celebrating Gigi, and four other amazing volunteers at Pillars of Change on May 10, 2017!

You can join us at Pillars of Change by registering now. We hope to see you there!

Christine Salinas: dedicated, thoughtful, dependable

Christine is a 2017 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.

Three years ago, Christine Salinas was searching for volunteer opportunities dealing with issues that were close to her heart: children and young people, domestic violence, and immigration. That’s when Christine found Sanctuary for Families.

After completing Sanctuary’s volunteer application, she was set up with an opportunity supporting childcare staff at the Queen’s Family Justice Center. “Despite their situations, I found that their experiences didn’t stop them from being kids”, she remembers, “They are incredibly resilient plus they help me stay young!”

Due to Christine’s Spanish language skills, she soon transitioned into another volunteer role: providing written document translations within Sanctuary’s volunteer-led Translation Project, which fulfills translation requests in multiples languages from staff throughout the agency.

The best part of this new role for Christine: translations can be completed virtually, via e-mail, in the volunteer’s own time. “Many volunteer opportunities are not available after 5pm but I was extremely fortunate to have found Sanctuary”, she explains.

Christine has become an indispensable part of the Translation Project, having completed over 50 unique translations with a cumulative donation of almost 150 hours of her time and skills supporting Sanctuary staff and clients.

Christine has translated everything from birth certificates, divorce decrees, and asylum applications to transcriptions of videos, outreach and training materials, and children’s books. She always makes herself available for translations and often replies with an enthusiastic, “keep ‘em coming!” to requests from Volunteer Program staff.

In addition to the superhuman speed in which Christine is able to complete translations, her attention to detail and genuine care for Sanctuary’s clients has not gone unnoticed. As such, Christine has been continuously entrusted with sensitive translation requests that require a volunteer with the strongest sense of confidentiality, professionalism, and thoroughness.

Not only has Christine never disappointed, staff consistently rave about the quality and efficiency of her work.

Christine intends to build upon her passion for helping others (with help from her newly-developed skills in both English and Spanish legal jargon) to pursue a career as a lawyer within the social services field. We wish luck to Christine in all of her endeavors and hope to keep her involved in Sanctuary’s work for a long time to come!

We look forward to celebrating Christine’s service at Pillars of Change on May 10, 2017.

You can join us at Pillars of Change by registering now. We hope to see you there!

Holiday Highlights 2016

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

The holidays can be a difficult time for many of our clients, particularly those who have left behind family and friends in their efforts to escape abuse. 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 143 of our highest-needs families (over 450 individuals) had their entire holiday wishlists fulfilled by incredibly generous donors – thank you for bringing joy to survivors of gender violence during this busy season.

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

3. Handing out thousands of additional games, toys and gifts to over 1,800 adults and children who receive services at Sanctuary.

4. Collecting $25,000 in gift cards to distribute – empowering our clients to buy presents for themselves and their loved ones and to share in a gift-giving experience they otherwise may not have been able to afford.

5. Throwing five fantastic parties thanks to Horace Mann School, Paul Lebrecque Salon, and other amazing donors and volunteers.

6. Hanging out with the amazing and 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!