Health & Medicine

Mission of children's center met that of volunteer

Janelle Phillips
Janelle Phillips

Sometimes finding a way to help is just a Google search away.

When Janelle Phillips moved to Lexington last spring, she knew she wanted to volunteer with children. But that was a challenge because she was new to the Bluegrass and didn't know many people.

So she took her search online.

What she found is the Children's Advocacy Center of the Bluegrass, a non-profit focused on helping children who have been sexually abused. Once she learned about the mission of the center, she didn't look any further.

"It just felt like a good place for me," said Phillips, 33, a dorm director at the University of Kentucky.

Phillips had worked for several years with troubled children as a social worker and had a special affinity for struggling families.

"I've always had a heart for kids," she said.

It took several months for Phillips to complete all the needed background checks, but it was worth it for her and the center staff.

Her main post is at the front door of the center. She tries to make sure the families are comfortable as they are waiting to talk to staff. She knows it can be a difficult time.

Being "comfortable" can range from making sure they understand what happens to them next to warming up a baby bottle.

Megan Kohler, who organizes the center's volunteers, said Phillips is warm, friendly, welcoming and flexible.

"Janelle has the innate ability to fit seamlessly into the ebb and flow of the center's schedule," she said. "Some days are really challenging and hectic while others are quiet and calm — she arrives ready for anything."

The importance of volunteering is something Phillips learned from her family growing up in Michigan, she said. And because of her background in working with children, she hopes to become more involved in the care of clients at the center as she continues her volunteer efforts. She has found a lot of satisfaction in her job as über greeter, she said.

She wants others to know that the center, and many other non-profits, can use willing folks with open hearts.

"There is some kind of agency that can use you," she said.

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