Celebrating those who give of themselves.
by Judith Lawrenson
Photography by Bill Lawrenson
Hope Haven of the Lowcountry is a nationally accredited not-for-profit Children’s Advocacy and Rape Crisis Center located in Beaufort South, Carolina and serving residents county-wide. Their mission is: “ to provide comprehensive services that lead to healing for child victims of abuse and adult victims of rape, sexual assault, and incest. We also strive to increase the community’s awareness of these issues through education and outreach.”
With a straight forward mission that carries a deep emotional impact, Hope Haven is a lifeline, a ray of hope, a kind word, a loving hug of understanding, and in reality, even more than all of that. Cinda Seamon, long time Hope Haven volunteer, gives some insight into her beloved organization and its mission of mercy.
Pink: How long have you been a volunteer at Hope Haven?
Cinda: I have been a volunteer for over 25 years. It was one of the first things I did when I first came to Hilton Head. I went through the training, which was very rigorous. Even after the training sessions I felt my heart was still with this wonderful program and I became a regular volunteer.
Pink: What do you do for the organization?
Cinda: I am currently the volunteer coordinator for the Hope Haven volunteers who respond to Hilton Head Hospital. I am responsible for the on-call calendar each month. I make sure it is filled. We respond to a victim’s call or a hospital call regarding a victim of rape or sexual assault on a 365, 24/7 basis. We are there! I host regular volunteer meetings and make sure volunteers are informed on a regular basis. I make sure our clothes closet at the hospital is full too. We provide clothing for those who have no change of clothing to wear when they are released. I also see to all of the paperwork the volunteers may need. If there are volunteer opportunities available that do not require a response to a crisis call or the hospital, I put that information out so everyone has a chance to be involved on some level. I make sure protocol updates are given to volunteers and I coordinate activities with other community organizations. A good example of this is the Zonta organization that hosts “Take Back the Night.”
Pink: That sounds like a full schedule even if you did nothing else. I know though that you do much more. What are some of the other things you do?
Cinda: Yes, I am the Fire and Life Safety Educator for Hilton Head Island Fire and Rescue. I am a CPR instructor and a nationally certified Car Seat Tech. Those two are job related, by the way. I am one of the founding members of Car Seats 4 Kids, an organization that provides car seats for those who cannot afford them. I am a graduate of the Leadership Hilton Head Island, Bluffton program too.
I was the Zonta Woman of the Year several years ago. That is an honor I really cherish.
Pink: Aren’t you also involved in the Programs for Exceptional People (PEP) that is quite unique?
Cinda: I started doing ballroom dancing at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio a while back, and through them I’ve been involved with Programs for Exceptional People (PEP) for almost three years. We meet at the studio to dance several times a month. The special needs students’ project is newer and is made possible with help from the Children’s Relief Fund. They currently dance once a month. Both groups have performed in the big showcases that Bluffton's Fred Astaire Dance Studio sponsors, working to get them on stage to perform is not only remarkable and a whole lot of fun, but extremely rewarding. Talk about inspired!
Pink: Working with victims of abuse is probably emotionally draining. It must take a very special kind of person. What are some of the qualities you look for when someone comes forward to volunteer?
Cinda: The people who work well for Hope Haven are people who are happy to work behind the scenes and do what it takes to get the job done. Much of what we do is in the middle of the night. Responding to a crisis or a hospital call can literally be any time. Our work is extremely confidential, so that is what I mean by the term “behind the scenes.” Most people will never know that we have responded to a call—even our family or friends. People also need to know that this kind of work can often take an emotional toll. It is important for people to have a passion for the cause. Even if someone does not want to be an on-call volunteer we are happy to have people who are willing to promote what we do and share our allegiance to the organization. There is always a place for someone who wants to be with us.
I have worked so many cases over the years and one thing I have discovered is no two are the same. I expect the unexpected every time I walk into the hospital. I have seen very small children, older adults, family members and friends of victims. Often these people need help just like the victim. Sometimes something like this becomes a shared experience for the victim and their loved ones. That is pretty tough to deal with.
Pink: Cinda is there anything else you would like to share
Cinda: Yes. I am always grateful to my parents. They were volunteers and a shining example to me. I would like to think that I have made a difference in people’s lives and I learned that from them.
I cannot say enough about Cinda. Her loyalty and dedication to the Hope Haven mission is incredible. She started the whole volunteer pool that basically allows for total coverage of victims and advocacy for rape victims. She has faithfully served, has a positive attitude, and has a great strength of character. We are so very blessed to have her.”
-Shauw Chinn Capps, Executive Director, Hope Haven of the Lowcountry
Crisis Hotline: 800-637-7273
OUR NEXT EVENT: May 15, 2015
11th Annual Lilies on the River Benefit Event
For more info please visit our website.