Michelle Aubuchont has a long history as a volunteer. She first started volunteering at the zoo as a teenager and later at the police department. She even ran a 5k dressed as McGruff the Crime Dog.
Michelle was a stay-at-home from for five years before deciding to go to school as a criminal justice major. Originally, she had planned to become a police officer. In 2014, while working on her bachelors at Arizona State University (ASU), she learned about domestic violence.
Though still in school, Michelle knew she could make a difference. She applied to volunteer at My Sisters’ Place (MSP), a Catholic Charities domestic violence shelter for families escaping abuse.
After applying as a Catholic Charities volunteer, she needed to submit references, get a background check and a fingerprint clearance card. These procedures are in place to keep clients and staff safe at the shelter.
As a volunteer, Michelle helps with the children at the shelter while the parents attend group meetings. The time is often spent making crafts or other projects. “We know the kids background, but during this hour, they don’t have to think about that. They are just being kids, and I love being a part of that,” said Michelle.
Michelle, a mother herself, finds it easy to connect with the kids and start building relationships with them. “Being there every week, the kids get to know you,” said Michelle.
Volunteer Turned Employee
Now Michelle gets more opportunity to connect with the parents as well. In June 2016, after graduating from ASU, she was hired as an on-call case worker. She feels that her criminal justice background gives her a unique perspective on her work at MSP. “I’m always focused on safety and keep an eye on our surroundings,” said Michelle.
Before volunteering at MSP, Michelle didn’t realize why people would stay in abusive situations. Now she understands, “The people at the shelter didn’t walk into abusive relationships. It’s a slow process, where they are manipulated and everything is stripped away from them,” said Michelle.
Even though she is now an employee, she doesn’t plan to stop volunteering.