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Capri Backus is a graduate student studying Public Policy at the University of Michigan. One of the inspirations that she cites in choosing to pursue this career path has been her experience in working with the client-centered model of philanthropy and service provision during her work as a volunteer with the CARE Center STTARS Program.
Capri started her volunteerism as a student at W&J College after completing STTARS’ 40-hour volunteer training. This highly interactive training covers a wide variety of topics such as trauma response, diversity and inclusion, social justice, and empowerment. Training equips volunteers to assist in hotline operations for survivors, advocacy work, and community outreach and engagement.
Capri asserts that STTARS provided a concrete opportunity for her to connect with the Washington community. Her involvement has helped her to improve actionable skills for serving other people, and to act on core values related to improving the quality of life for survivors by empowering them to take steps toward recovery. She was drawn to STTARS’ model of grassroots mobilization of local residents to provide assistance to others in their own communities.
A major project that Capri oversaw was the implementation of a Red Sand Project event with STTARS’ Volunteer Coordinator, Pam Kilgore, on the W&J campus. The Red Sand Project is an international initiative that raises awareness of Human Trafficking in local communities. The project uses red sand sprinkled in cracks in the sidewalk or on art projects signifying those survivors who fall through the cracks of society due to lack of resources and supports. As part of this endeavor, Capri created an art installation and had information available on both local and national resources for trafficking and other sexual violence issues.
As a volunteer, Capri feels that she has been able to develop better facilitation skills in assisting with the hotline and providing client-level advocacy, as well as participating in awareness campaigns that bring the message of sexual violence prevention to the wider community. Top among these skills has been how to build trust with a trauma survivor, and assist in identifying needs and creating action plans, as well as how to establish appropriate boundaries in service provision. She has witnessed how powerful effective utilization of resources can be in the recovery of survivors, particularly in the prioritization of their health and well-being. Capri would like to challenge others to become engaged in affecting change within themselves and in their communities through volunteerism.