Samantha Armstrong is a veteran at Shelter Movers Vancouver, volunteering since the chapter began more than two years ago. Samantha started as the chapter’s first intake coordinator and processed every move during the first year. She eventually became an intake supervisor, which involves scheduling moves with the intake team.
Through this experience, Samantha has the opportunity to speak with survivors of violence regularly, which she does in a compassionate and caring way to ensure they feel safe and secure when choosing Shelter Movers. Samantha learned this communication style from Shelter Movers training, as well as through volunteering with a crisis line, and studying for her bachelor’s degree in social work.
As a student and self-proclaimed “workaholic,” Samantha says she strikes a work-life balance by staying organized and scheduling time to spend with her partner and family. After graduating from her bachelor’s degree, Samantha wants to pursue a career as a social worker and plans to work with women and children experiencing violence to serve her community better.
Samantha says volunteering at Shelter Movers is an “incredible, wonderful experience.” “It’s heartwarming to see the impact your work has directly on the community,” Samantha says.
Through her experience, she’s learned three valuable pieces of information she would not have been aware of otherwise. First, she has developed greater insight into the cycle of abuse and violence against women. Second, she now understands how few resources are available for people wishing to leave violence. If you’re asking why people experiencing violence don’t just leave, Samantha says, “it’s much more complicated than that.” There is a lack of housing, lack of safe places for pets, and a high risk of losing personal belongings after a move. The role of Shelter Movers is to remind survivors of their intrinsic worth and the power they are reclaiming in their decision to leave an abusive relationship. Third, she recognizes the importance of treating everyone equally. “When you encounter someone facing an incredible challenge, being patient, kind, and doing everything you can to help that person makes a remarkable difference in their life.”
When reflecting on her work at Shelter Movers, the memories that stand out are “all so wonderful.” After a move, she always remembers the joy and relief on clients’ faces when they’re finally reunited with meaningful personal belongings such as family photos. Samantha mentions her favourite part of volunteering is the honour and privilege of helping survivors start a new journey in life.
For those thinking of volunteering, Samantha says, “It’s incredible – definitely something to do.” The great thing about Shelter Movers is that it offers lots of flexibility, so it’s easy to volunteer even if you have a busy schedule. “Joining Shelter Movers will absolutely change your world view,” Samantha says.
Are you interested in volunteering with Shelter Movers Vancouver? Join our incredible community of volunteers and start having an immediate, lasting impact on the lives of people living in your city. We’re always looking for new team members so visit our volunteer page to see available opportunities.