A Place of Refuge
Updated: Jul 9, 2019
Katie spent the last nine months interning at Sojourner as an MSW graduate intern from the University of MN. Below she shares some of her experience and what she learned working with survivors of domestic violence....
Sojourner Shelter is a place of refuge for families experiencing chronic stress and instability resulting from living with an abusive person. Here, families can reside without fear in a community of supportive people who understand the lived experience of domestic violence. It is a place of renewal, and self-reflection where individuals have a chance to become grounded before making decisions about crucial next steps.
During my time at Sojourner as a social work shelter intern, one of my responsibilities was screening women on the 24-hour crisis line and co-advocating for them upon their arrival. In thinking about the women as they made their way to the shelter, I would contemplate their strength and courage, as they were beginning the process of starting their lives all over again. So many questions remain unanswered when you start again, but upon arriving at Sojourner, the women could expect to be welcomed by staff and have an advocate to help them navigate the complex problems that result from family violence.
At Sojourner, shelter interns need to be adaptable to meet the needs of the residents. On any given shift, you might find yourself doing a number of tasks ranging from systems advocacy to calling a game of BINGO. One of my favorite aspects of being the shelter intern was co-facilitating the weekly life skills group. Life skills topics include practical subjects like cybersecurity and reproductive health as well as self-care practices, including mindfulness, yoga, and meditation. I appreciated the opportunity to co-facilitate these groups because it provided me the time to not only engage with the shelter's residents but also community members who are experts in their field. The topics were interesting and fun, and I learned as much as the residents. Co-facilitating this group was one of many experiences that I value from my time as the shelter intern.
Throughout the year, I was also able to see how Sojourner’s purpose extends beyond providing emergency shelter to individuals experiencing domestic violence. It was wonderful to see Sojourner's influence permeate throughout the community in the form of youth outreach, community education, and legal advocacy.
Interested in interning at Sojourner? Apply here!