by Michelle Russell
My name is Michelle Russell and I am a volunteer with The Christi Center as a Healing Hearts Ambassador through the Junior League of Austin. I chose to work with The Christi Center because I was quite moved by the work that they do. Having lost my mother when I was 13, I was especially moved by the support programs they have available for kids. I know something like that would have been helpful to me.
After my initial meeting with the staff to learn more about my volunteer role I was very excited to be a part of this organization. But along with excitement came a bit of anxiety. I started to get nervous about the emotional aspect of working with The Christi Center. My mother passed away 15 years ago. I kept telling myself that I should be fine. Surely since it has been so long I won’t get emotional or feel sad and upset. When I sat in on my first Monday night group I listened to several different stories and my heart began to ache for these folks around me. I began to remember that raw feeling after losing a loved one. I realized even after 15 years that pain is still there. I guess it never really goes away. But even though I was experiencing my own pain from my personal loss, I knew this was the right place for me to be at this time in my life.
I had my first child (Finn) last January and he is an amazing kid. But I have had so many moments where I wish my mom were here to see him or to answer my questions (because Lord knows I have a million of them). It has been a joyous year but also a year full of reminders that she is no longer with me. Knowing that there is a whole center of people available for support is such a good feeling.
Over the past several months I have been blessed to get to know so many wonderful people through The Christi Center. I have been made to feel so comfortable and welcome amongst everyone. And even if I do become emotional or sad when remembering my mom, I know it is ok. I am surrounded by folks that understand what I have been through and pass no judgment.
I am honored to volunteer with such a great organization. While I set out to come here and help out and make a difference, The Christi Center has in turn made a huge difference to me.