Saturday, December 12, 2009

I think I really screwed up...

Every other Saturday I work at a resale shop that's owned by the Women's center. They help victims and survivors of family violence, sexual assault, stalking, and sexual abuse (not exclusively women, but obviously mostly women). I've been volunteering there for about a year, and when I first signed up to volunteer I really wanted to do something where I would be working directly with the women in the shelter. But I realized that with my work being in the middle of Houston and the shelter being not in Houston... I just couldn't make the time commitment. But they said they really needed volunteers at the warehouse (where they take donations and sell household items, furniture etc). So I decided to do that. And the reason I do it every other Saturday is because I don't want it to feel like I have to "work" 6 days a week. I don't want to wake up and think "UGH, I have to go work at the resale shop today." I figured twice a month would be a good amount of time. They have volunteers that work there several days each week, but they are mostly old ladies who don't have jobs.

Anyways, Saturdays are always really busy at the store, and I kinda like working the register when it's busy because it goes by fast and even though you might not think so at first there's a lot of multi-tasking with questions and calls and putting stuff away up front. And I've been told by the manager that most of the other (older) volunteers aren't really comfortable at the register especially when it's really busy, so it works out I guess.

Today we were especially busy in the afternoon and there was a lady at the register who asked me the address of the shelter. Obviously I told her "I can't give it to you." For confidentiality reasons and for the safety of clients who are there, volunteers/staff cannot give out the address. Honestly, I don't even know it and could not have given it to her if I did. She said she had to drop something off there which of course doesn't make sense because we don't take the donations there. Now, because I wasn't thinking and because we were really busy and there were people in line I didn't think to ask "well what do you need to drop off." Then, she tells me "Well I have the address at home but not in my car" which of course is probably a lie and I just told her again "I'm sorry I can't give it to you." I wasn't rude, but I wasn't exactly nice either. I just kinda blew her off so I could get to the next person in line and it just hit me like a ton of bricks when I got home that maybe she was asking for the address because she needed to go there.

I was so caught up with checking people out and packing their stuff and answering questions about if the Christmas ornament is 25 cents or 50 cents that I forgot the reason I volunteer there. The whole reason I volunteer there is so I could help people, even if it's indirectly, and there's a strong possibility that this woman actually needed help and I totally blew it. I just feel like shit. And I know there's nothing I could've done except give her the hotline number, but at least I could've done something. And we do have business cards and brochures are up front with the hotline number, but maybe she didn't see them or maybe she did and she was just embarrassed to take one. I really don't know. But I just can't help but thinking she was looking for help, and I just blew her off. And maybe the place she went home to is not a safe place. I know that it's not my fault, but I still think I really screwed up...I can't really fix it or undo it, but I guess I need to be more conscious of it when when people come into the store and ask about anything directly related to the shelter.

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