Would you recommend Exhale?
I've been volunteering with Exhale since 2004, and have enjoyed all of the different things that I've helped out with, from tabling and working with education events to being a counselor on the talkline. Volunteering on the talkline is incredibly rewarding, and the other counselors are a great support system to have, even after you've completed the training and are volunteering independently.
I'm currently in training to be a talkline counselor, and I'm loving my experience. I was drawn to Exhale because it creates safe spaces for people to process their abortion experiences, and because I hope to develop counseling skills for a future career in mental health. So far I'm 17 hours into the 54 hour training process. I've been impressed by how thoughtful, well-organized, and INTERESTING the training is. I actually look forward to the sessions, and many fellow counselors in training have said the same.
At our last training, I was able to meet most of the current counselors, staff, and management, including the organization's founder. They are a dedicated and talented bunch! Their energy and passion are inspiring. I heard countless stories of fulfilling experiences, both on the hotline and in participating in leadership opportunities. I'm very excited to join this community and to become a talkline counselor.
With Exhale I get to help people through their times of need without having to worry about political arguments, talking points, etc. and just be present for them without judgment or shame to help them process their personal life experiences with a pro-voice mindset. The training is really intense and for the handful that make it into the training not everyone completes it, but that intensity and the demanding commitment of being a volunteer pay off big when I get to have a positive effect on someone's life.
I have also served as an Exhale intern and fundraiser and working in the office was a great experience to be in an atmosphere that rewards critical thinking and initiative and my personal ideas and experiences were welcomed in regards to helping Exhale be the best organization it can be (which is not at all common in my non-profit and feminist career experience) to support its mission and the people who need us to be there for them. Exhale is, how do you say, awesome?!
I've been a volunteer with Exhale for 3 years and I've had a variety of roles with Exhale -- talkline counselor, online community moderator, storyteller. In each instance the staff have fully prepared me to be successful AND gave me enough autonomy to bring my own personal touch to the role.
They do have exceptionally high standards for their volunteers and I feel like it helps the overal volunteer pool to be one of the best I've ever been a part of. I always feel supported whenever I have a difficult call that I need to debrief. And, before they make any significant changes to policies or services, they get the buy-in and feedback of the volunteers.
In addition to Exhale, I've volunteered on a rape crisis line, as a victim advocate, and on numerous political campaigns. I also spent about 5 years in the non-profit sector as a professional. I can honestly say that it is one of the most positive volunteer experiences I've ever had.
I recently interviewed with this organization. The mission of the organization is great however the lack of professionalism is a turn off. As a result, I would not recommend it to students, friends and or colleagues.
PsyD students depend on volunteer work to supplement their clinical training. In light of this, it is important for volunteer organizations to be professional in all interactions with volunteer applicants particularly students.
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