Volunteer Spotlight: Dave Herring
Dave Herring has volunteered with STVCC in many roles; as a Board Member, Refugee Family Mentor, and a Mentor at STVCC Children’s Home. When talking to Dave about what he would like to share of his volunteer experience, he gave us a letter he had written to his friends. It is so moving; we wanted to share it with you:
“Many of you may know that I have been volunteering at St Vincent Catholic Charities. Primarily I have been helping refugee services in a variety of ways. Recently I had the opportunity to help with an activity at St Vincent’s Children’s Home. Some very generous people donated bikes to each of the children. I was asked to help teach the children how to care for and maintain their bikes. On the first night, in the gym, we showed a group of 19 young ladies ages 12-17 how to change a tire. In the midst of our helping a fight broke out between several young ladies. I was totally taken by surprise as I was working within 10 feet of the scuffle. It was loud, arms flailing, expletives flying, confusion reigning. The St Vincent staff took immediate action, stopped the fight and removed all the girls to a safe place. I was impressed.
One of the young ladies, however, was particularly aggressive. It took four adult staff to hold her. They held her for at least 30 minutes. First she was violent, yelling, cursing, and then crying. She began to “flash back,” to past abuse she had experienced before coming to STVCC, and in her crying, she pleaded not to be raped again. After 30 or more minutes she was calm enough to leave from the gym and that was all I saw. What I learned that night, is that very probably all of these young ladies had been raped or at least seriously abused in their past. I soaked that in. What have these children seen or personally experienced. When I recall looking at them, what I saw was a sometimes rough exterior and tough expressions. What I saw in their eyes were the eyes of children, no different from my grandchildren, wanting to be loved, wanting a hug, wanting to be listened to. They are in this situation through no fault of their own.
On the way home, all I could do was think of that helpless child asking not to be raped again. When I arrived home and hugged my wife I broke into an uncontrollable sob. I don’t know if I was crying for her or for some long since forgotten childhood experience. I’m a big, tough guy. I was sobbing uncontrollably.
The next day at the Home, the environment was very calm. What I did see, though, was what I believe was an adult volunteer walking around the grounds with a young girl, talking. The young girl returned to the evening’s activities seeming happy and very calm. The woman disappeared before I could talk to her. She was an adult volunteer mentor for that child, spending a little time giving some love and encouragement. The result was obvious.
I was deeply touched by what I saw. I did not know what I should do. A week or so later a very good friend helped me separate my emotions concerning this from rational thought. I was/am deeply touched by this experience. I still don’t know exactly what I will do, but I will do something. The first being to tell my friends about this. I cannot hold this in. I needed to share it. Those children need help. Volunteering can be rewarding,” Dave Herring.
Today, Dave is a tutor at STVCC Children’s Home and helping to make a difference in the lives of children who have come to us to heal from past abuse and neglect. He is helping them experience a positive, healthy and safe relationship with an adult.
Thank you Dave for making a difference in the lives of others in great need.