The Heart of a Volunteer
Local mom shares time and offers compassion to victims of sexual assault.
Compassion. The desire to help others. An ear that is always willing to listen. Unending selflessness. It takes someone special to possess these qualities and even more so, to share them with strangers.
Mothers have these qualities. In celebration of Mom’s month, it is important to recognize how much women do for their loved ones and to highlight the goodwill of those who further apply their motherly instincts to victims of abuse.
South Leawood resident Cynthia Wendt fits this description. A mother of three grown children, Wendt’s carpooling days are behind her. She now spends her time as a volunteer for the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA). In this role, Wendt uses her previous career experience as an employee for the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office and her role as a mom to offer support to victims of sexual assault.
Wendt has been a MOCSA volunteer for more than 25 years. In that time, she has served as a board member and has led fund-raising efforts for the organization. Now, she focuses on responding to calls from area emergency rooms and by going to hospitals where she visits with victims.
“A hospital’s Emergency Department calls MOCSA and the volunteer on call meets the victim to explain the organization’s support,” Wendt says.
|Cynthia Wendt, MOCSA volunteer.|
When Wendt answers a call, she brings the victim a care kit.
“It has a change of clothes, toothbrush, survival information, common stories from other victims, and details on follow-up services,” she says.
Just as moms offer advice to their kids, although sometimes they don’t listen, Wendt says some victims accept the care kit but decline her help.
“There are times I feel like I make a big difference to the victim at the hospital; other times, it’s the family that really appreciates my support,” Wendt says. “Every experience is different. I don’t know what to expect but at least I am there to offer help if they want it.”
Wendt says she has remained an active MOCSA volunteer for so long because she admires the professionalism of the organization and as a mom she wants “these services to be available for young women.”
“Most victims are women close to the age of my daughter. I remember being that age and even though sometimes people don’t use the best judgment, no one deserves to be sexually assaulted. I like to deliver that message,” Wendt says.
For more information, visit mocsa.org.
The Moxie of MOCSA
Angie Blumel, director of community services for the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA) answers some questions on this valuable non-profit group for which 400 metro area residents volunteer.
435 South: How did MOCSA begin?
Angie Blumel: In 1969, a group of concerned individuals including police officers, prosecutors, psychologists, medical professionals and rape victims met to form a network to address the needs of rape victims. In 1975, MOCSA formalized and gained its 501(c)(3) status to become an official not-for-profit in Kansas City.
435: What is the organization’s mission?
AB: MOCSA exists to lessen the ill effects of sexual assault and abuse through prevention, education, treatment, intervention and advocacy.
435: How does one become a volunteer for MOCSA?
AB: First, complete the volunteer application. After MOCSA receives a completed application, the volunteer coordinator sets up an interview with the applicant. After the interview, appropriate candidates are asked to attend training. All candidates attending training must complete a $40 criminal background check. A reference check may also be required. The 40-hour initial volunteer training consists of group learning sessions and independent self-study. For one-time or short-term volunteers, a brief orientation may be all that is required.
Blumel says through its support, MOCSA helps thousands of area residents each year. Here is a breakdown of how the organization provided education, awareness, prevention and support during 2011.
24-Hour Crisis Line: Staff and volunteers provided support and information with 3,719 calls to 2,290 callers through the 24-hour crisis line.
Child Sexual Abuse Treatment Program: Volunteers helped 939 individuals by offering 11,471 hours of service.
Sexual Assault Intervention Services: MOCSA responded to 678 hospital advocacy activations, and 316 victims received criminal justice system and other advocacy. 267 people received individual counseling and/or support group services.
Community and Professional Education: MOCSA staff reached 60,756 people through 2,875 presentations: 9,594 students, ages 4 to 11, received Project Aware, MOCSA’s child sexual abuse prevention program; 2,977 individuals participated in Teen Exchange, a multi-session prevention program through schools and youth organizations; 320 individuals participated in Strength Clubs, prevention programming aimed at constructing positive and healthy views of masculinity; 359 men received Man Up! training; 35,760 people attended school-based sexual abuse prevention and awareness presentations; 1,613 received professional training, including police officers, nurses, teachers, clergy and other social service providers; and 10,133 people benefitted from presentations, displays and outreach events in the community.