Recognizing Valencia Edwards-Alleyne: A Pillars of Change Honoree

Valencia is a 2019 Pillars of Change honoree.

In anticipation of Pillars of Change on June 11th, we are highlighting Sanctuary Volunteers who will be honored at the volunteer recognition event! Learn More and Register for Pillars of Change.

Valencia Edwards-Alleyne has been a volunteer within Sanctuary’s Children and Family Services Program for numerous locations since 1997!

Before volunteering her time at Sanctuary, Valencia had previous experience working as a camp counselor and wanted to continue working with children in any way that could make a difference. Valencia started as a childcare volunteer, working directly with Sanctuary staff members taking care of children of clients while they attended meetings or support groups. She eventually became a group leader and now runs childcare groups independently. Valencia has continued to expand her role at Sanctuary and her professional expertise has proven a huge asset as well. Valencia has a Masters in early childhood special education and has worked as a teacher for children with special needs for almost the entire time she has volunteered at Sanctuary.

Most recently, Valencia has been volunteering with Sanctuary through the Brooke Jackman Family Literacy Program in the Manhattan Family Justice Center, while preparing to attend a second summer of Camp HOPE New York as a volunteer counselor!

Valencia has been an incredibly invaluable volunteer to the clinical staff throughout the agency; she has provided a positive and memorable time for children while parents receive much-needed services. “I hope that I help to provide the clients with a sense that their children are safe and in good hands during their meetings” Valencia explains.

First, just being a dependable person for 20 years is just a priceless contribution. For children who have experienced a lot of loss and trauma, consistency is so critical to feeling safe and that the world can be dependable” says Laura Fernandez, LMSW, Clinical Department Director.

On Thursday evenings, Valencia provides support to our Survivor Leadership Institute. The innovative program trains former Sanctuary clients, who have been out of their abusive situations for approximately one year, to provide information about gender-based violence to community groups. Survivor Leaders are living examples of how victims can recover their health, power, and self-esteem by seeking help.

“Valencia has seen my son from a very scared and confused 9-year-old in the midst of a domestic violence crisis to a put together and confident 14-year-old. She has been an integral part of helping us rebuild our lives, as I pursued my healing and training at Sanctuary, and he came to feel secure and at home in the space. She was able to create a calm oasis for him when he was a child and now that he’s a teen, she is still able to meet his needs. He has such great, warm feelings about Sanctuary, and that is largely due to the stability and peace that Valencia has created in the childcare room.”

Over the past 20 years, Sanctuary’s staff and services have grown exponentially, and Valencia has been an integral part in providing support to many of our new programs within the Clinical and Children and Family Services department.

“She is selfless and so kind. She makes my children feel safe and they trust and love her so much. Her volunteer service helps me personally so much”

We thank Valencia for her amazing commitment to Sanctuary’s staff and clients! Her impact reaches well beyond what can be captured in words.

We hope you will join us at Pillars of Change on June 11th, 2019 to recognize Valencia and all of our volunteers for their dedicated service. Please RSVP for Pillars of Change today!

Recognizing Artemis Anninos: A Pillars of Change Honoree

Artemis 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.

Artemis Anninos first heard of Sanctuary in 1991, when her roommate from college began working as a case worker.

“I was inspired by the dedication, commitment and compassion of the people who work at Sanctuary and the courage and resilience of the clients.”

A little over two decades later, Artemis took on a Sanctuary pro bono matter through her firm, Cahill Gordon & Reindel, LLP and has been working on pro bono matters and volunteering with Sanctuary ever since.

Currently, Artemis works as an interview prep volunteer, helping our clients conquer their anxieties about interviewing and developing a script regarding their professional narratives. This can be especially challenging for a group of clients that are working to build up confidence around their suitability for the professional space and careers.

Additionally, Artemis has played an integral role in math tutoring since we started offering it to Economic Empowerment Program (EEP) clients during the Office Operations Workshop (OOW), Sanctuary’s in-house job training program. More recently, she has assisted with high school equivalency (HSE) tutoring with our clients doing OOW and working on obtaining their HSE simultaneously.

“I am proud to be part of a team of volunteers that assist the Sanctuary staff in their mission to improve the future opportunities for Sanctuary clients,” she exclaims.

Artemis’ devotion to her clients and her work is not only evident in their successes, but also in the overall sense of determination and compassion that she exudes. According to her supervisor, Sarah Hayes, Deputy Director of the Economic Empowerment Program:

“Clients look forward to meeting with her and working on areas of knowledge that can bring up feelings of vulnerability – yet, and still, they leave sessions with her feeling good about math and their ability to conquer their challenges.”

Artemis has put in countless hours into helping Sanctuary’s clients. She stands as a “pillar” of consideration and professionalism to clients and staff alike. According to Artemis, all the work is worth it once she sees “the sense of accomplishment and pride in the students when they pass an exam or get a job.”

Pillars of Change is an opportunity to honor extraordinary volunteers like Artemis, who bring knowledge, compassion, and determination 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 Artemis and four other incredible volunteers for their service. You can join us at Pillars of Change by registering now!

Recognizing Jason Friedland and Shleppers Moving & Storage: A Pillars of Change Honoree

Jason 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.

Jason Friedland was introduced to Sanctuary in 2015 through Sanctuary Board Member Aliya Sahai. As CEO of Shleppers Moving & Storage, Jason oversees one of the most trusted and well-regarded moving companies in New York City.

Shelppers Moving & Storage is also well-known for their various charitable endeavors, supporting organizations such as United Way, March of Dimes, and the American Diabetes Association.

Aliya was aware of the company’s charitable activities and asked Jason, a close friend, if they could support Sanctuary’s Adopt-a-Family Program with pro bono moving services. Jason explains,

“I find that if you do exactly what Aliya wants you to do, it’s usually the smart choice. Also, I was happy to help.”

The Adopt-a-Family Program matches Sanctuary’s clients with donors who are able to fulfill their holiday ‘wish lists’. Through this program, Sanctuary currently serves over 400 adults and children each year with gifts that provide comfort and enjoyment during a time that can be difficult for many of our clients.

In addition to the Adopt-a-Family Program, Sanctuary also aims to provide each adult and child receiving services with at least one gift at the end of the year. Including the Adopt-a-Family Program, Sanctuary’s holiday giving drives support well over 1,000 individuals each year throughout New York City.

As the program has grown over the past several years, logistical challenges of delivering these gifts to families across four boroughs became apparent. For the past three years, Shleppers Moving & Storage has provided free moving services to seamlessly deliver thousands of gifts across New York City.

Sanctuary would not be able to reach so many clients during the busy holiday season without the support of Shleppers. Their efficiency, professionalism, and care have not gone unnoticed by Emily Lo Bue, Director of Corporate and Volunteer Relations:

“In addition to the logistical benefit of having a pro bono moving company support this program, the crews from Shleppers have consistently made this experience positive, efficient, and much less daunting. The crew members have always been prepared for anything, willing to go above and beyond, and completely respectful and sensitive to our needs.”

For Jason, the reason for participating in this program is simple:

“The more resources Sanctuary has available, the more it can fulfill its mission to help its clients and their children. It feels good to be able to help”

Thanks in no small part to Jason’s steadfast commitment to Sanctuary and the wider community, Shleppers has become an important partner to Sanctuary for Families.

Sanctuary’s staff and clients thank both Jason and his team at Shleppers for their generosity, the impact of which is felt far beyond the holiday season.

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

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!