Inside the Arizona Advocacy Center with Lisa Ciolli

 

This week begins a series of blog posts that will take us inside the Childhelp Advocacy Centers around the country. We’ll begin the series with Arizona Volunteer Coordinator, Lisa Ciolli. Lisa began working for Childhelp after deciding that she wanted to dedicate herself to “something more.” Of her experience, she says, “It has given me such perspective on life and has helped me appreciate my own healthy family.” As the Volunteer Coordinator, Lisa trains volunteers and manages the center’s playroom which helps children feel more comfortable during these difficult visits.

“Each day our goal is to keep our kiddos happy and smiling while they are visiting…but it seems they are the ones who always put a smile on our faces,” Lisa says as she describes her day to day activities.

Each person at the Childhelp Advocacy Centers plays a vital role in helping abused children begin the healing process. Lisa ensures the children’s safety and that their needs are met while they await services at the center. “Our goal is to keep children content and carefree while they are in our care,” she says. Since each child comes in with a different set of needs, that is often a challenging task.

“Some kids can be unsure, worried or even frightened if they have just recently experienced a traumatic situation. Some kids come in right out of very neglectful situations and may need to be bathed or fed. I help take care of those needs so they feel comfortable as they wait for a forensic interview or medical exam,” she says. Sometimes there are children who have been removed by CPS from their homes. For these displaced children, Lisa and her volunteers pack a backpack with essentials, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, pajamas and clothing for them to take to their foster placement. “I always make sure to include some kind of comfort item, such as a stuffed animal to help them feel safe that night,” Lisa adds.

Despite obvious rewards, caring for these children can be an emotionally taxing experience for Lisa and her volunteers. “I’ll be honest, I have even cried on the way home a few times. But my tears are nothing compared to the tears these little ones have cried,” Lisa says of this difficulty. “They are so resilient and it is so rewarding to be able to care for these children and make sure they are safe and healthy.”

As the some of the first people that an abused child encounters when they enter the Arizona Advocacy Center, Lisa and her volunteers, do an amazing job of making each child feel welcome. “It’s so great that we all have the same goal in working together to make sure kids are safe and served in their time of need… I truly feel blessed to be working for Childhelp.”

At Childhelp, we are thankful to have Lisa to work alongside us to bring much needed care and healing to children who have been abused. Like Lisa, we, “hope for a day when there is not as much need for an advocacy center like ours,” but in the mean time we are blessed to have such an incredible staff.

Thank you Lisa and thank you to all of the volunteers at the Arizona Advocacy Center!

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