Volunteering: Because everyone needs support

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.

Michelle, with her mom
Michelle with her mom

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.

michelle with finn
Michelle with her son

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.