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Volunteer Services
support and information line volunteers
volunteer hours on the support lines
hours of volunteer training provided

SACE began as a volunteer phone line in 1975, and the volunteer services program continues to be rooted firmly at the core of SACE values.

SACE began as a volunteer phone line in 1975, and volunteerism continues to be rooted firmly at the core of SACE values. Through the past year we continued our collaboration with Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence community partners, and poured many hours into the training, operation, and maintenance of the One Line. The One Line service is a collaboration between SACE, the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS), Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse (CCASA), and the University of Alberta Sexual Assault Centre (UASAC).

Although challenged by the pandemic, over the past year SACE volunteers have been involved in a multitude of ways supporting the operation of the SACE Support and Information Line program and our work as the northern hub of Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence.

Our two-person program had our annual “visioning” session at the start of the year.  This is dedicated time to reflect on the last twelve months, document our successes and learnings, and make a strategic action plan for the entire year. We’ve found this practice to be incredibly helpful in staying intentional; it helps us navigate where to spend our energy in a more holistic way. The program continues to run effectively and efficiently.

Our reputation in the community is growing, as evidenced by the number of applicants wanting to volunteer on the support lines. Volunteering with SACE has become very competitive; we always have 2-3 times more applicants than available training spots.  We are also proud that multiple agencies have reached out to us recently for consultation on how to strengthen volunteer engagement. We anticipate this trend will continue going forward.

Volunteer training and ongoing education 

SACE prides itself on ensuring that our volunteers have the training and support they need to be able to comfortably and effectively fulfill their phone/text/chat support roles. We offer a free, 70+ hour training program that helps prepare our volunteers for their roles as supporters on the SACE Support and Information Line and Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence.

 Part of our yearly work continues to be the volunteer training curriculum review. For months, we worked with the other members of the Operations Committee of Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence, to review and enhance the existing curriculum. These annual reviews are important to ensuring we are training volunteers with current best practices, so they can best support those who have been impacted by sexual violence. This year the edits focused on suicide risk assessments and child sexual abuse.  We are excited to debut the updated curriculum with the next volunteer training cohort.

Each month we also host a virtual volunteer meeting. This helps to provide our volunteers with an opportunity to connect with each other and the agency, to refine their skills, and to continue learning more about sexual violence and community resources.

Volunteer appreciation

Honouring our volunteers is one of the pillars of the Volunteer Services program. From our Star of the Month program, to prizes for taking shifts on long weekends, to mailing goodie bags of treats, we love to shower our volunteers in appreciation! In January we hosted the annual volunteer awards night virtually on Zoom. This is our biggest appreciation event of the year, and is a chance to celebrate all the volunteers who have contributed their time, effort, and skills. We present individual awards (e.g. Volunteer of the Year), acknowledge each person’s hourly contribution, have door prizes, ice-breaker activities, and everyone gets a gift. Even with having the event online for safety reasons, the feedback on the event was very positive.

A huge thank you from the bottom of our hearts to our dear volunteers. Without their tireless support and dedication, SACE would not be able to operate to the capacity and standard of excellence that it does. We are so grateful to have spent another year working with the most incredibly compassionate humans who have shown us that in the most challenging times, community is still possible. They have been adaptive, innovative, and resilient in every sense of the word!

Feedback from our volunteers 

Every year Volunteer Services program staff send out an annual volunteer survey.  The survey includes an option to share a testimonial, and volunteers give their consent for the testimonial to be used on the website and/or in the annual report.

“Volunteering here has literally changed my life for the better. The training was informative and through enough to give me the confidence to help those who have experienced sexual violence. The supervisors are excellent at ensuring that you are cared for and supported in your role so you do not burnout. The culture that you are welcomed into is warm and inviting.”

“I have never found a group of people more supportive, caring and genuinely kind that work at and volunteer for SACE. SACE is a comforting and welcoming environment for everyone that encourages growth, learning and acceptance.”

Volunteer Services program annual awards

In January 2022, Volunteer Services hosted our annual awards night to celebrate everyone’s achievements for 2021. All volunteers are recognized for the time, energy, and effort they give to SACE. The three major awards that were presented at the annual event were: the Rick Chalifoux / Jean Gauthier memorial award (Volunteer of the Year); the Heather Huet memorial award for creativity, and; the Roots Award.

Rick Chalifoux / Jean Gauthier Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award 

This award is presented in memory of two SACE volunteers who worked on the support line, with training, and with fundraising.  Rick and Jean were partners and died within a few months of each other of HIV/AIDS.

Jasmine D.
2021 Recipient

Jasmine was selected for the volunteer of the year award as a result of her wonderful performance over the past year. Jasmine is a committed and consistent volunteer, her communication skills are superb, and she is an excellent mentor for new volunteers. Overall, Jasmine’s demeanor, and conduct is empathetic, positive, and she is an amazing volunteer!

Heather Huet Memorial Volunteer Award

This award was donated by Susan Jamieson, who was a SACE Board President for 19 year before retiring in 2019. This award is in memory of her partner Heather, a volunteer manager at Catholic Social Services, who passed away of breast cancer. The award is for the volunteer who comes up with “creative” ideas or solutions to problems, or is just plain “creative” in their assistance to SACE!

Jennie V.
2021 Recipient

Jennie is an incredibly talented artist, and was selected for this award as she very graciously donated a print of one of her beautiful paintings to the department. The painting, titled “Wading” is part of a larger series which is a fantastical representation of one character’s healing journey. Jennie describes the piece as “about lovingly and carefully wading into the very stuff of which you are made; it is about reflection and self-compassion.”  We are so lucky to have such creative and generous volunteers like Jennie!

Roots Award for Longstanding Service

This award is presented to any volunteer who reaches 5 or more years of service with SACE on the support lines.

Tessa H.
2021 Recipient

Tessa has been a wonderful, driven, kind and competent volunteer over the past ten years. She has been an empathetic and safe space for so many callers/chatters impacted by sexual violence and a pillar in the volunteer program. We are so grateful for her and her commitment to volunteer services and hope to have her on our team for many years to come.

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