Gigi Yan: kind, compassionate, trustworthy

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!