Barb #VolunteerSpotlight

June 30, 2017

The first thing Barb did when she moved to Santa Monica eleven years ago was search for ways to become involved in her new community. So when she walked past Chrysalis’ Santa Monica center, it was a perfect, serendipitous encounter. Before long, she was plugged in and providing one-on-one services to her new neighbors – our Chrysalis clients.

“The most significant thing I have learned from volunteering with Chrysalis is realizing the difference that the smallest gesture makes to someone who is struggling – maybe it’s just a friendly greeting or just a smile. Most often when a client thanks me for something specific, it’s almost always been for something I didn’t give much thought to at the time. I learned that lesson at Chrysalis, but it’s definitely carried over to the rest of my life.”

Today, Barb teaches Job Prep 1, the first of four job preparation classes. She works with clients to identify their hard and soft skills, discusses the importance of asking for references, and teaches clients about resume writing. To top it off, Barb also serves as a co-chair of the Women’s Empowerment Program (WEP), a nine-week series of workshops where female clients build self-confidence and learn about a variety of topics, including time management, interviewing, personal finance, and more!

“I’ve had many favorite moments during my years as a Chrysalis volunteer, but the most recent was at this year’s WEP Beauty for Business event,” says Barb. This year, she found another opportunity to make our female clients feel incredibly special. Barb sought out another organization all the way on the East Coast that donates bras to homeless women. Being able to add these undergarments to the goodie bags for the graduating WEP participants was a very memorable moment.

“As the evening was winding down, I was explaining to a client that we had to make sure each woman got the bag intended for her because they included a personally sized item. When I wouldn’t tell her what the item was, she said she hoped it was a bra. That was pretty awesome to hear—she was getting something she wanted and needed. And sure enough, at graduation the following week, she told me she was wearing her gift!”

In the more than 10 years she has served Chrysalis clients, Barb has often found that it is the little things – whether it’s providing a client with properly–fitting interview attire or just a smile – that have the biggest impact. More than once, she has been thanked by clients for actions that did not feel particularly significant to her. But it is from those interactions with clients that she has learned a valuable lesson she carries with her each day: “It takes so little to treat someone with dignity, and it can mean so much.”


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