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Sarah-Keel joined the SCAN staff in 2021 as the Volunteer Coordinator. She recruits, trains, and coordinates volunteers across all of SCAN’s programs with a special focus on the Richmond CASA program. We are grateful to have her experience, relationship building skills, and kindness on the SCAN team!
How did you first get involved with SCAN and what is your role?
I first got involved with SCAN through joining the GRTICN, where I met Lisa Wright. I was really in awe of the work that she was doing with SCAN (and ultimately SCAN as a whole), and I felt a big pull to be involved. I decided to go with my gut and show up however I could, and it worked out that I was able to be the volunteer coordinator! I work primarily with the CASA team, but also work to coordinate volunteers for SCAN’s four other programs.
What has your life/work experience been that brought you to SCAN?
I’ve worked in the service industry ever since college, but each job I progressed to allowed me to connect more deeply with those I interacted with. I’ve always been good at connection, but it wasn’t until I took a workshop in January of 2019 that I really had that “lightbulb” moment. The workshop was called “Translating Trauma: The Physical Impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences” and it totally rocked my world in the best way possible. I really identified with a lot of the content presented and kept thinking to myself “I’m 25 years old and I’m just now learning about this. How many other people like me don’t know?” I read online once that if you want to know what your passionate about, think about what makes you frustrated. I felt so frustrated that the knowledge, education, and resources surrounding ACEs didn’t feel widely known or available. Feels a little cliché sometimes, but it definitely pushed me to pursue child advocacy work. I’m just lucky that I get to do it with SCAN!
What inspires you to stay involved with SCAN?
It’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the world’s grief sometimes. It feels like there’s always something hard happening, but to quote Glennon Doyle, “We can do hard things”! I can’t stop every sad, hard, frustrating, bad thing from happening, but I can try. And to me, trying is always better. But most importantly, I’m not trying to do it alone. I’m surrounded by so many incredible people, which makes all the difference. Everyone I know at SCAN leads by example, which continually inspires me.
Is there anything you wish other people knew about SCAN?
I wish people knew more about why we do what we do. When I’m in conversation with people about our work, I often find that things like parenting classes or trauma-informed care aren’t familiar. And furthermore, why they’re needed. To me, knowing why our programs exist is just as important as having them. It gives context and meaning. When I better understand someone’s situation, I can approach it with more kindness, care, and empathy.
What has been the best experience with SCAN so far?
Working with the CASA team is the best! At the end of my very first day, one of my coworkers said “congrats on your first day!” and then another coworker, August, said “Oh I forgot it was your first day. It feels like you’ve been here”. I’ll never forget that because it made me feel like I was in the right place with the right people. I look forward to being in the office because of how much I enjoy my team members. That type of environment speaks volumes to the work culture SCAN has created.
What are any challenges you have faced in your work with SCAN?
I really enjoy being around people, so not being able to host frequent in-person events is difficult. I’m hoping that as we move further into 2022 we can get back to being face-to-face. I communicate with so many volunteers daily, but I often don’t know what they look like! I can’t wait for the day when I get to meet everyone in person.
Do you have any goals or hopes for the next year?
My main goal is to increase our CASA volunteer pool. I’m also hoping to have more events for volunteers to connect with each other.
Are you involved with any other community organizations, hobbies, or activities?
I love being active, so you can usually find me outside, in the gym, or at a weekly ballet class. Spending time with local friends and family is important to me, so I always try to make time for that. Sometimes I foster kittens through animal control too. I’m also trying to become fluent in Spanish, so I like to visit my Spanish-speaking friends regularly.
What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
I don’t really watch a lot of TV. I’d much rather be out and about doing things. People are always recommending shows and I feel bad when I say I’ll watch it because I know I won’t!