CST Volunteer Job Descriptions

We depend on the kindness and generosity of volunteers to help us accomplish our mission.

CST has an ongoing need for compassionate and dedicated volunteers. Needs that have been identified by our staff and clients include the following. Please note that in most instances, volunteers must have “in-office” experience under the supervision of CST staff before beginning “out-of-office” projects with clients.
Please contact Alan to schedule volunteer training at 512-358-4612 or 214-827-2314.

DIRECT CLIENT SERVICES

General Client Support – In Office
Activities: General client support consists of being present in the CST office during standard operating hours (Monday – Friday, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm) to greet clients and engage in conversation or other activities. Many clients come to CST in groups because they share transportation so there are often people waiting to see a counselor. In the waiting room, there is a computer (which clients can use), a couch, and a table. There are writing and drawing supplies as well as snacks and drinks. Time spent in the waiting room can just be socializing, it can be learning new skills and practicing English, and or it can be special projects like art, writing, or music. We rely on volunteers to help make CST a fun, friendly, and welcoming place.

Time commitment: One or more shifts each week, each shift at least 2 hours long to provide stability and minimize disruptions.

Mentor – Out of Office
Activities: A mentor enters a long-term relationship (minimum of six months) with a client. Activities depend upon the needs of the client, the interests of the two people, and the time available, but “presence” is the keystone of this role. The client and volunteer may enjoy social activities such as walks, museums, concerts, or restaurants, with an emphasis on free or low-cost activities.

Time commitment: An average of two hours per week, depending on the needs and schedules of client and volunteer; may not meet every week.

Bus Guide – Out of Office
Activities: Bus guides fill an integral role in the lives of our newest clients. Volunteers assist clients in learning the local bus system and achieving independence in navigating the city. The client learns to get to specific destinations and develops a competency that provides for greater independence. Bus rides can also provide a social opportunity and something to do for clients who might otherwise be isolated. Bus guides spend time getting to know the bus system, accompanying clients and explaining the system, and they stay positive about the experience even on days when the weather is bad and the waiting time is long.

Time commitment: Generally, two to three hours per bus trip, plus time spent studying the routes.

Mental Health/Counseling – In Office or Out of Office
Activities: Volunteer counselors must be properly trained and licensed to practice independently. Counseling interns must be under the direct supervision of an educational program and a licensed supervisor. There are many types of mental health related volunteer positions available such as: counselors in the CST office for on-going client therapy; psychiatrists who can write and monitor prescriptions; and professionals who can provide psychological evaluations.

Time commitment: Varies by type of work. On-going counseling relationships require at least six-month commitment. Court-related volunteers are asked to continue working with a client through the duration of her/his case and may be required to testify before the court in San Antonio or Houston.

Legal Assistance – In Office or Out of Office
Activities: Anyone providing legal services or legal advice must be properly trained and licensed to provide such services. There is a great need for volunteer attorneys who have the time and interest to take on a client’s asylum application. CST will pair volunteer attorneys who are new to asylum work with an experienced mentor. There are also opportunities for volunteers to provide legal advice, workshops, or presentations as needs are identified by CST staff.

Time Commitment: Varies by type of work. Presentations or workshops may be one-time events while an asylum application may take over a year.

Health/Medical Assistance – In Office or Out of Office
Activities: Anyone providing medical services must be properly trained and licensed to provide such services. A variety of medical services are needed by CST clients from specialized medical treatment, to workshops or presentations on health-related issues, to forensic medical evaluations. Volunteers may also accompany clients to Medical Assistance Program appointments or to doctor’s offices to provide support and help understanding the medical system.

Time Commitment: Varies by type of work. Presentations or workshops may be one-time events. Court-related volunteers are asked to continue working with a client through the duration of her/his case and may be required to testify before the court in San Antonio or Houston. Providing specialized treatment may last through the duration of a medical condition.

Financial/Banking/Budgeting – In Office or Out of Office
Activities: Anyone providing financial advice must be properly trained and certified to do so. A variety of financially-related services are needed by CST clients from help setting up a bank account to help understanding loans. Because they are new to the United States and may not have strong English skills, clients may be vulnerable to people cheating them out of their money. This is an area where presentations and workshops may be used to educate clients.

Time Commitment: Generally two to three hours at a time, depending on the activity.

Housing Information – In Office or Out of Office
Activities: CST clients often start out in shared housing. When they have the resources to search for their own housing, they often need assistance with the housing search and understanding the terms of a lease. Sometimes clients come to our office and need help addressing a situation with a landlord (such as a repair being needed). Volunteers can also do presentations or workshops to disseminate information about housing and tenant’s rights to a group.

Time Commitment: Varies based on the situation, from one or two hours one time for a presentation to a couple hours a week for several weeks when helping a client with a specific issue.

Vocational Information – In Office or Out of Office
Activities: Some CST clients are not eligible to work in the United States but others are. For those who are, we offer help with job searches and provide information about workers’ rights. This assistance can be provided one-on-one with a client or in a group presentation.

Time Commitment: Varies based on the situation, from one or two hours one time for a presentation to a couple hours a week for several weeks when helping a client with a specific issue.

Educational Information – Out of Office
Activities: Some CST clients are interested in taking classes at local schools, either enrolled as students or in community education programs. Others have children who need to enroll in public school. These experiences can be confusing (knowing timeframes, where to go, what to bring, etc.) and it helps to have a volunteer to navigate the system with the client/family.

Time Commitment: Varies but often four to six hours broken up over the course of a couple of weeks.

Tutoring – Out of Office
Activities: Some adult clients are studying for a GED or other examination and would benefit from additional assistance; also, some children new to the U.S. educational system may need one-on-one help to catch up to their peers. Tutoring can take place at a library, coffee shop, or other such location.

Time Commitment: One or two hour sessions at least twice a week for the time that the client is studying (generally one to three months).

ESL – In Office or Out of Office
Activities: ESL tutors provide crucial language support to our clients learning English. Volunteers will be given a small booklet of informal English lessons and a list of additional, web-based resources. Volunteers can meet individually with clients (more like tutoring described above) or can have small-group ESL classes at the CST office.

Time Commitment: For ESL group classes: two hours in the office at least once a week. Individual tutoring can be scheduled with the client.

Transportation – Out of Office
Activities: Some clients live far from a bus route while others struggle to afford bus passes. For these clients, volunteers can provide transportation to appointments or other events. This can be an on-going relationship with a client or can be one-time (such as for a special event). We do not expect volunteers to be the only means of transportation for a client, but they can be a helpful supplement to other methods.

Time Commitment: Generally one to three hours per instance of transportation (depends on the distance and whether the volunteer provides one-way or round-trip). Frequency of transportation trips is determined by the volunteer.

Recreational Activities – Out of Office
Activities: Many clients feel they have nowhere to go and nothing to do since they are limited by finances and comfort with being in a new country. It is very helpful for them to get out and have fun. Volunteers can arrange outings to free events (concerts, festivals) or activities (soccer or volleyball games, flying kites, taking a walking tour).

Time Commitment: Generally two to three hours recruiting clients, then the time of the event itself. Events can be one-time or repeating (weekly or monthly).

Special Projects – In Office or Out of Office
Activities: Clients benefit greatly from having a creative outlet such as art or music. Many clients are very skilled in these areas already while others would like to learn. It also helps the CST staff if there is an activity for clients to work on while waiting to see a counselor. Projects can be “taught” if the volunteer has expertise, or it can just be an opportunity for people to do their own thing depending on their interest and prior ability.

Time Commitment: Two hours a week for ongoing activities, two or more hours for a one-time event.

OFFICE / ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT

Clerical /Bookkeeping / Financial – In Office
Activities: Assist the CST office manager with clerical or financial matters such as filing, mailing, or data entry.

Time Commitment: Two to four hours per instance.

Computers / Technical – In Office
Activities: Help to maintain the CST computers and other office machines. Provide computers or other donated electronics for clients.

Time Commitment: Varies depending on activities.

Repairs / Maintenance – In Office
Activities: Contribute time to maintaining the CST office in various ways such as plumbing repairs, painting, or moving large heavy furniture. Volunteers providing specialized services must be properly trained and certified (e.g. licensed / bonded).

Time Commitment: Varies depending on activities.

Cleaning / Organizing – In Office
Activities: The first Monday of each month we receive a large donation of clothes and household items. Volunteers can assist by helping to collect donated materials (two blocks from the CST office) or helping to sort and organize them when they reach the office. Other cleaning and organizing opportunities may also exist depending on the interest of the volunteer.

Time Commitment: Two to three hours once a month.

Special Event Assistance – Out of Office
Activities: Volunteers are helpful at all levels of a special event, from conceptualizing and planning, to publicizing, to implementing.

Time Commitment: Varies, can be several hours a week for several months to help plan or can be two or more hours at the event itself.

Soliciting Donations – Out of Office
Activities: CST benefits greatly from donations of time, money, and tangible items such as bus passes, language dictionaries, and clothes or food for clients. Volunteers who are members of a group or organization may organize drives to collect specific donations.

Time Commitment: Several hours a week over the course of one or more months.

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Toni Abadi named Humanitarian of the Year by CST for 2016




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We’ve Moved!

Our Dallas office is now at a new location. We’re not just a few steps away.

4108 Swiss Avenue
Dallas, TX 75204

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The Clinical Corner

Clients report enjoying CST’s hospitality, knowing there is always tea, juice, snacks, offered several times before, during and after an appointment. Clients report a feeling of being hopeful after receiving service from CST.

The following are comments from the client survey:
•“No one leaves CST hungry.”
•“I was able to graduate high-school in the U.S. after not knowing any English and having to take care of three of siblings alone in my country before arriving in the USA at age 15.”
•“There is always help at CST. CST is family. CST helped me with my problem and now I have my family here with me in the U.S. God bless CST.”

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Community of Hope Giving Program

The Community of Hope is a new giving opportunity for donors to enable Center for Survivors of Torture (CST) to provide free comprehensive mental health counseling and related services for torture survivors living in our community. With your tax-deductible gift of $250 or more (or a monthly gift of $25), your name will be recognized in CST’s giving program ‘The Community of Hope”, in the CST newsletter, on our website, and at our yearly donor recognition luncheon.

Your generosity empowers the men, women, and children who have suffered from being tortured, to rebuild their lives, with hope and encouragement.

Giving regularly allows you and your family to have a greater impact on the survivors we serve by breaking down a generous total contribution into a monthly amount that fits your charitable giving goals. Monthly giving creates sustainability and stability for CST and our clients since the demand for the healing services that we provide has doubled in 2013.
Please go to www.cstnet.org and make a commitment to rebuild a life today.

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Meadows Campaign Update: We Did It!

With overwhelming gratitude, Center for Survivors of Torture (CST) extends a huge thank you for your support in reaching our mutual goal to be the recipient of The Meadows Foundation Matching Grant. With your donations, $50,000 was raised, which was then matched by The Meadows Foundation, for a grand total of $100,000 distributed on October 29, 2013! Your contributions are already helping torture and trauma survivors to heal with respect and to believe that there is hope for their future as part of the Texas Community.

CST clients, including children and families, are thriving as a result of the comprehensive mental health services provided funded by your incredible generosity.

*** The Meadows Foundation is among the most recognized private philanthropies in the country, both for its grantmaking practices and its active engagement in advancing the field of private philanthropy.

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From the Executive Director – November 2013

Dear CST supporters,

In many ways, 2013 is going to be a record year for Center for Survivors of Torture. We have been able to expand our mental health services to more refugees suffering from anxiety, depression, and adjustment disorder. We welcomed our new clinical director, the well-regarded Dr. Russ Adams, LPC-S, LMFT-S. Under Dr. Adams’ clinical leadership, CST will continue to expand as a warm and welcoming community center for survivors of torture and trauma, all over Texas.

So far, in 2013, we were honored and humbled to have received NEW grants from The Meadows Foundation, ORR, Still Water Foundation, LIRS, Shield-Ayres, The Hammill Foundation, The Link Foundation, John Frucella Foundation, UNVFVT, and LCRA. Additionally, the community has wrapped their arms around us to make this a stellar year for clients who benefited from your generous donations and volunteerism.

Thank you for your continuing participation in advancing our mission, healing international survivors of torture and trauma through counseling and related services.

Warm regards,

Celia VanDeGraaf
Executive Director
director@cstnet.org

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Meadows Foundation Will Double Your Generous Donation to CST

The Meadows Foundation of Dallas, Texas has awarded a grant of $100,000 to Center for Survivors of Torture and will match $1:$1 for funds that we are able to raise up to $50,000, between February 6 and October 31, 2013. This means every dollar that you donate to help survivors of torture will be doubled! Please join us in the matching funds campaign!

The Meadows Foundation is among the most recognized private philanthropies in the country, both for its grantmaking practices and its active engagement in advancing the field of private philanthropy.

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World Refugee Day, Through the Eyes of a CST Volunteer

“Certainly, for the refugees attaining their US citizenship at the ceremony and for the numerous other refugees who have been here awhile or who aspire to become citizens, the World Refugee Day celebration at the Texas History Museum has a profound personal significance. For me also, as a new volunteer at CST and a relatively new Austinite, it was a momentous occasion. I was, for the first time, immersed in the remarkably multifaceted, colorful, and festive manifestation of something that I had been inspired by indirectly. This was my chance to experience the size and the vibrancy of the refugee population firsthand.

 

Smiling Iraqi children crafted thank you cards at CST’s table. A Congolese teenager performed a powerful spoken word piece. A well-dressed (some in traditional attire from their homelands) crowd ate delicious food and drummed together. An Iraqi man played an evocative piece on the oud. Downstairs, organizations committed to helping refugees handed out literature and engaged guests, while families posed for professional photographs. I found myself wanting to take photos, a sign that I was feeling inspired – happy to be in a city like Austin where this is possible and happy to bear witness to this tribute to survivors. Their joyful energy was infectious. I had a sense of being in a realm in which I want to spend more time, of being around people I want to know better.”

– Kevin L., CST Volunteer

Multiple musicians and bands from all over the world performed at World Refugee Day. Photos courtesy of Kevin L.

 

 

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CST In the Press

Make sure to check out our Matching Campaign from The Meadows Foundation coverage from the Dallas Morning News HERE and our involvement with World Refugee Day in the Austin American Statesman HERE.

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