NICEVILLE — Both Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Centers (ECCAC) in Niceville and DeFuniak Springs are in need of front desk reception volunteers.
The front desks at both centers are staffed entirely by volunteers so that the paid staff can be free to assist the children and families through the process of healing. Volunteers are the first people the children and visitors see when they step into the centers.
The volunteers are responsible for meet-and-greets, monitoring children while parents and caregivers are meeting with staff, as well as baking cookies and answering phones.
Volunteers are needed for all three shifts: 8-11 a.m., 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 2-5 p.m.
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Those interested are required to be 18 or older, attend a training class, be fingerprinted and undergo a background check. Individual orientation appointments can be arranged.
“Our volunteers are integral to the overall success of the healing journey for children and their families that come to ECCAC,” said Ana Michalzik, the volunteer and event coordinator.
Barb Whitman is a great example of a dedicated volunteer. She volunteers twice a week at the DeFuniak Springs center along with her three special therapy dogs, Brylee, Bringlebells and Miracle.
Whitman thought she was going to walk into an office atmosphere, but when she entered she saw a child-friendly environment with bright colors, stuffed animals, toys, pictures, smiles and the smell of chocolate chip cookies.
“ECCAC is a friendly, loving place, which is just the opposite of what a child experiences in abuse,” she said. “Being able to bring my Healing Paws therapy dogs gives a wonderful opportunity for the children to interact with the dogs and feel safe. To those contemplating volunteering, I say just do it. Come visit one of the centers and see for yourself. There’s no greater investment one can make than to be a part of a child’s life, family and community to help make the world a more beautiful place for hurting children and their families.”
ECCAC provides services in a child-friendly environment to help identify, treat and support children in abusive situations, as well as to help prevent child abuse through education and prevention programs. The centers in Okaloosa and Walton counties house representatives from the Florida Department of Children and Families, Child Protection Team, State Attorney’s Office, local law enforcement, licensed mental health counselors and ECCAC’s staff and volunteers.
In ECCAC’s 23-year history, over 15,000 children have received more than 170,000 services at no cost.
For more volunteer information, contact Volunteer and Event Coordinator Ana Michalzik at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 850-833-9237, Ext. 283.
For further information, visit www.eccac.org. If abuse is suspected, call the anonymous Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.