PAVE seeking volunteers for hotline

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BENNINGTON >> A local group that serves victims of domestic and sexual abuse is in need of volunteers to staff its 24-hour hotline.

Eileen Monyahan, advocate and office administrator for the Project Against Violent Encounters (PAVE) said there are currently 11 volunteers helping with the hotline and they could use between 10 and 15 more.

A volunteer can be on-call from anywhere, she said. The way it works is someone in need of PAVE's services calls the hotline number which is answered by a third party, then the volunteer is put in touch with the caller.

Monyahan said volunteers can counsel a violence victim on a number of things, from how to get away from their abuser to how to file for a restraining order. Volunteers must go through hours of training, given at the PAVE office in Bennington for free.

Monyahan said any level of commitment is a help, even if it's one day a week. The shifts run from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., and 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.

"Even if someone only does a short while, that'll help," Monyahan said.

Last year, 600 people used the hotline. Monday saw about eight callers, while some days see none.

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To volunteer, one can not have been in an abusive relationship within the past year. Beyond that, a willingness to help is all that's needed to apply. Volunteers do not need to live in Bennington, as PAVE is a county-wide service.

Those who want to volunteer are asked to call 802-442-2370.

Suzanne Kirkpatrick, a PAVE volunteer of two and a half years, said the cases she encounters are never quite what she expects.

"The most surprising thing is, you get this expectation of who calls PAVE and what they call for, and it's never quite what it seemed like it would be," she said.

Kirkpatrick is also on PAVE's board of directors, plus she volunteers Thursdays at Vermont Superior Court helping abuse victims with the legal process. She said there's a great variety in the crises she assists with.

"It's a rollercoaster. There are times when I think I can't do it anymore, then other times it's very rewarding when you're able to help someone," she said.

Kirkpatrick said PAVE is flexible with volunteers. She learned about the organization through her mother, Mary Kirkpatrick, who was also a PAVE hotline volunteer and board member.

— Staff reports


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