Volunteer Spotlight: Amrita
We are delighted to introduce you to one of our amazing Peer Support Volunteers, Amrita, who graciously responded to our interview questions in early April 2023.
Can you share a little bit about yourself?
Originally from India, I moved to the United States 4.5 years ago for work and have been in SF since then. It’s been an adventure for sure! The cold SF summers, the warm people, dealing with covid, the wildfires and orange skies, and the monsoon-like rains we’ve been experiencing 🙂 The city never fails to surprise me.
What kind of volunteering do you do with Shanti?
I volunteer with the LGBTQ+ Aging & Abilities Support Network (LAASN), and I have been with my client Graham for 4 years now.
How did you first hear about Shanti and become involved?
When I came to the US, I was looking for a volunteering activity for the weekends. I first started volunteering with the Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS) program, walking dogs and helping with food deliveries in early 2019. It was during that time that I learned about Shanti [and its other programs], took part in the amazing Peer Support Training, and became a volunteer in July that year with the LAASN program.
What kinds of things do you do with your matched client? Tell us about your favorite thing(s) to do together.
It started with just home visits. Gradually, my client felt well enough to start venturing outside their apartment, and we would usually go grocery shopping together. Covid was a mixed blessing in that regard, because we would make it a point to meet outdoors, get some sun, and walk around. Now, our main activity is going to Church on Sundays— it motivates my client, helps them stay active (we take the bus and walk as well), find belonging in community, and connection with the people they meet—all very vital for their mental health and well-being. (I enjoy the choir music!)
How has volunteering with Shanti impacted your life?
Volunteering with Shanti has been life changing for me— it’s changed my relationship to the city, to its people, and with myself. Approaching someone without judgment, being present, focusing on consistency, and realizing that when you reach out to help someone, they also change something in you. Some of the concepts I learnt at the Shanti volunteer training, like active listening, have helped improve relationships within my own family and loved ones.
I’ve also felt a deeper connection to San Francisco, learning about the city through my client’s eyes, replacing my fear/ignorance of neighborhoods like the Tenderloin to understanding them and the stories of the people who live there. It’s turned SF into a complex, multilayered, and beautiful city instead of viewing it through a privileged tech bubble.
What do you do outside of being a volunteer with Shanti?
Outside of volunteering with Shanti, I enjoy reading books, practicing Yoga, and taking long walks around the streets and parks of San Francisco (something I started doing during Covid and continue to enjoy).