It’s Day 66 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project, I’m getting this post in just under the wire. Thanks to those who read Post I. I hope you’ll enjoy this continuation.
Ava Turns Her Avocation Into A Vocation – Post II
Ava did indeed get to college and became a middle school teacher, just as Aunt Bitsy predicted. Hired straight out of college, she was the youngest teacher on staff at a small, private Christian school. All of the students viewed her as “the cool” teacher because of her hands on approach. Most days her class could be found acting out plays they’d written or erupting volcanoes they’d built in class. Between teaching and coaching the school’s squad for the football and basketball seasons, Ava couldn’t say which she enjoyed more. She’d earned a scholarship to the University of Cincinnati and easily made the cheerleading squad, making her long held dream come true. And her former UC Bear Kitten status definitely added to her cool factor with the students. She really didn’t like the notoriety, but since the tween boys were in awe of her, they went out of their way to be respectful. At barely five feet, her height made her a great flyer on the UC squad but probably wouldn’t have served her well as far as classroom management was concerned.
Not interested in marrying until she was much older, Ava had some good friends and was content to remain single and to go on living in the small apartment she shared with one of them near the school. As fulfilled as she was, the words stenciled above the doors of the sanctuary at the church where she grew up niggled at her. Worship begins when you enter; Service begins when you depart. Ava felt as though she was serving, had in fact gone into what she considered full time ministry at a Christian school so she could serve. Still, she felt she could be doing something more. She was off in the summers, so she hoped she’d figure out what she could do to serve in another way then.
“What do you think about volunteering this summer?” Ava’s roommate, Collette asked soon after their first school year ended. Collette was a full-time tutor at the same school.
Ava’s curiosity was immediately piqued. “Where?”
“Someone from Women Helping Women was the speaker at my church’s Mother’s Day Brunch and she passed out information about volunteering after her presentation.” Collette dug the brochure out of her handbag and looked it over before continuing. “The organization helps female victims of domestic violence. The training is forty hours. There’s an option for daytime that’s a full week or there’s an evening option that’s spread out over several weeks”.
“Hmm,” Ava responded thoughtfully. The idea sounded as if it could be the answer to her prayers. “Since we’re off, I say if we’re going to do it, let’s just take the plunge and do the solid week,” she finished with a grin.
“So you’re in?” Collette returned the grin.
“I’m all in!” Ava exclaimed as she jumped up and held out her hand for the flier so she could read all about it herself.
A few weeks later, after completing an intensive training that included an in-depth look at domestic violence, indicators that someone may be in an abusive relationship, how to support victims and survivors, including helping them to create a safety plan, an overview of the women’s shelter, and how law enforcement and the courts are involved, both young women felt as though some of their innocence was gone. They’d both fought to reign in their emotions when a rape kit was introduced to their group and the facilitator walked them through what the woman experiences during the examination.
When asked where they thought they’d see themselves volunteering, Collette was torn between wanting to work with the children at the shelter while their mothers attended counseling or supporting the women during the hospital examinations.
Ava had no trouble stating where she’d best fit. She’d known long before they visited the courthouse where a volunteer attorney vividly painted the picture of what happens inside the court room. How too often the woman is re-victimized from the stand. Ava had known it back when she was nine years old and had narrowly escaped being a victim herself. She’d lost her voice then; her ability to stand up for herself. She’d vowed to be a cheerleader for herself and other girls and women one day. She hadn’t known the grown up term back then but stated it in a clear, strong voice now.
“I’m going to be an advocate. A women’s court advocate.”
The rest of that summer, Ava took every opportunity to be at the courthouse to cheer on the women who had to testify against husbands, boyfriends, exes, and even family members. Each time she picked a woman up, most often from the shelter, and escorted her to court, she began advocating long before they were physically together. “God, I pray you will give this woman the courage and strength to speak up and to tell her story in a way that moves the judge to sentence the perpetrator in a way that he’ll not be able to hurt her or her children anymore,” she’d pray alone and then with the woman if she was open to that.
Then, right before the woman was summoned into the hearing or trial, Ava would ask if she could take her hand. “Do you mind if I pray?” By that point, most women welcomed it, no matter their beliefs. “God, You have not given your daughter a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind. May she feel Your presence and peace and speak the truth boldly. Amen.” Most of the time, the woman would then squeeze her hand, square her shoulders and march in to not only fight, but to win.
It was in times like those that Ava most loved being a real cheerleader for women. So much so that she began to wonder how she could do it not as her volunteer work or avocation, but as her career. Ava wanted to make being an advocate her vocation.
Stay tuned for Post 3!