Volunteer Spotlight

Ellen Knoppow
She, Her, Hers

Affirmations has been incredibly fortunate to receive the support of volunteers since our founding in 1989. Volunteers work throughout Affirmations beginning at our Welcome & Resource Desk and extending through the youth programming, the Bayard Rustin Media Center, and even special events! In the following Q&A, Affirmations’ Volunteer Ellen talks about her deep commitment to her time here at the center.

How long have you been involved with Affirmations?

I've been volunteering at the front desk for 8 months. I also solicited donations for the Spring Bash and Fall Fling. And I volunteered at the Spring Bash, which was a blast!

What made you want to get involved with Affirmations’ volunteer program?

After the presidential election, I was devastated. And it only worsened with the staffing of the administration. It seemed that everything I hold dear was at risk: a woman's right to choose, voting rights, gun control, free speech, and of course protecting the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. So I decided to stop agonizing and to act. I had been to Affirmations before and had thought of volunteering. But I'm kind of shy, and I didn't know people there or what opportunities were available. I took a risk, reached out, and found such an awesome group of people--staff, volunteers, guests--and I immediately felt welcome and part of the Affirmations family. I love the opportunity to help people who come in or call, who might need assistance with resources or just a mini-orientation of the center. So while the future of the country is still in question, I'm doing what I can to take action and lend support.

Why is Affirmations important to you?

As long as I can remember, I have been volunteering in one form or another. For a number of years, I delivered for Meals on Wheels, participated as a "friendly visitor" to home-bound older adults, and worked with a group of teens and parents at a social services agency, among other things. Currently, I also help out at a homeless shelter. No one told me I should volunteer, I did so as I followed the example of my parents, who are generous with both their time and money. (They have their faults, too!) Currently, my work schedule is flexible (I'm a freelance writer and editor, and I work part-time at a used bookstore) so I can pretty easily fit volunteering into my schedule. I would encourage everyone to support a cause that's meaningful to them, be it social, political, religious, etc. It's truly gratifying, and a win-win, as they say.

Are you involved with any specific groups at Affirmations?

Aside from volunteering, I participated in the facilitator training, because I may want to start a group in the future. Whether or not I do so, it was great information and expertly led. (Thanks, Heather!) I also attended the suicide awareness presentation, which was very informative. I did so because of teen suicide prevention and awareness, particularly among gay and transgender youth, is important to me and I think it doesn't get enough attention. I also was part of #TeamAffirmations at the Detroit AIDS Walk. It was a beautiful day, with beautiful people, and I was able to raise funds for an important cause. (And get some exercise.) I'd like to try out the yoga class; however, it is held on Friday afternoons when I'm at the front desk.

What are you passionate about outside of volunteering?

Aside from work, I'm passionate about a number of political causes, as I mentioned previously. Right now, it's the effort to end partisan gerrymandering, and I encourage everyone to sign a petition to put redistricting on the ballot for 2018. I also enjoying reading, writing, baking, spending time with family and just hanging out with my 13-year-old cat, Miss Daisy, whom I adopted last year. I also like searching for treasures at thrift stores and flea markets.

Volunteer Spotlight

Ellen Knoppow

Partner Spotlight

Thank you Plante Moran for helping to provide our youth with back to school items! We are beyond grateful for your assistance.

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