Cynthia McMullin has three passions in life: architecture, art and helping women. As a volunteer at Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC), a Sarasota nonprofit organization that works to end domestic and sexual violence, McMullin says she’s grateful for the opportunity to fulfill one of those passions.
After working as an architect all of her adult life, McMullin moved from Maine to Sarasota 12 years ago. She had previous experience working with nonprofits benefiting women in Maine, and when she arrived in Sarasota, she says she quickly began seeking opportunities to continue her volunteerism. She also hopes to eventually help establish a women’s fund in Sarasota.
“It’s something that’s very close to my heart,” she says. “I was raised in a home with domestic violence, and it’s always been a goal of mine to help other women.”
When she discovered SPARCC, she remembers being impressed with the organization and its staff. The nonprofit provides services including a 24/7 crisis hotline, community outreach, counseling, resource referral and a shelter for victims of abuse, their children and pets that also provides food and clothing.
“I was completely blown away by how professional they were — how loving, kind and constantly upbeat they were,” she says. “I was amazed, because it’s so painful to see these women come in with bruises all over, and, on top of that, sometimes with their children with bruises. It’s pretty heavy, but these women keep it up day in and day out, and it’s just fabulous.”
McMullin first began volunteering as one of the organization’s on-call volunteers who would assist women in the hospital. She held that position until 2007, when she switched to answering phone calls on the organization’s crisis hotline.
“I wanted to do something where my energy could hopefully help these people directly,” she says. “‘Filling’ is the best word I can use. It really fills me up, and that’s what I really want from volunteer work.”
SPARCC recently launched a campaign on Gulf Coast Gives to help fund an awareness campaign for college students.
“I’m proud to say my work does make a difference in people’s lives,” says Jessica Hays, director of community awareness. “Everyone who works here really cares about what they do. They’re personally invested in these people.”
To learn more, visit Gulf Coast Gives.
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