Volunteer Stories

A Matter of Faith

by Katherine Messenger
Volunteer Newsletter Writer

People volunteer with SAFEchild for a variety of reasons. Vonda Caldwell’s not-so-happy childhood and her strong religious beliefs brought her to the organization. “I was working through some painful memories and praying a lot,” she remembers. “I happened to read an article in our local paper about SAFEchild and its wonderful programs to prevent child abuse. I felt I was called to contact this group and volunteer my services.”

Because of her background, Vonda is a perfect match for SAFEchild’s Funny Tummy Feelings program, which teaches first-grade students how to protect themselves from physical or sexual abuse.

“I feel that I am reaching out to kids and helping them, while in turn reaching back to help myself,” she says.

A busy mother of four, Vonda homeschools and is very active in her church as well as helping out on a regular basis with SAFEchild. “Her creativity and energy are inspiring not only to the children she works with, but to her teammates and to me,” says Kate Howard Franch, coordinator of the Motheread/Fatheread and Funny Tummy Feelings programs. “She goes above and beyond to find just the right music or books to make a program more special. Vonda is an invaluable source for SAFEchild.”

Vonda has had extensive Funny Tummy Feelings training and uses a handbook in her presentation. Dressed in silly clothes, complete with a Hawaiian lei, Vonda has fun while imparting serious lessons. “I arrive dragging a wagon of fun things behind me,” she explains. “The kids laugh at my costume and my puppet Mr. Trickster, but they listen and learn from what I say.” Vonda says she can see some children having a light bulb come on or an “a ha” moment. This is when she knows her work has made a difference.

“If I had had the Funny Tummy Feelings program when I was a child,” she says wistfully, “things in my life may have been different.” Now, as a dedicated volunteer for SAFEchild, she makes a difference every time she goes into a classroom, with her faith by her side.

SAFEchild thanks Vonda for her dedication, time and hard work.