Editor’s note: The “Meet the” series profiles the people behind groups, organizations and businesses in the community.
By Lillian Bowe
Susan Morrison knows victims of sexual assault need someone to talk to. Having gone through the same things as the people who call the Arise Sexual Assault Services hotline, Morrison tries to help as much as she can.
Morrison volunteers at the hotline where she works 24-hour shifts answering calls.
Arise provides free services to victims of sexual violence throughout eastern New Mexico. Arise also provides nurses trained to deal with sexual assault victims who come to Arise and perform exams through the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program (SANE).
“I think they just need someone to talk to. I had no one talk to about it and I get to be there for them. They can even request to talk to me again,” Morrison said.
Morrison has been volunteering at Arise for two years and is working on becoming a social worker at Eastern New Mexico University. Morrison is also a mother and a volunteer at her church.
Despite her busy schedule, Morrison still makes time to get calls from those who have experienced sexual assault.
“I have this one person who called me just to talk and we watched Christmas movies together,” Morrison said.
Another reason she volunteers is to help bring awareness to the issue of sexual assault in the community.
“Not many people know how often this happens in our community. It’s just not talked about,” Morrison said.
Alexandra Miller believes volunteering at Arise is helping the community.
“Some call just to talk as they have no one. I try to make them feel comfortable,” Miller said.
Miller said she volunteered to be more involved in the community since she was new here. Miller came from Ohio to pursue her degree in psychology at ENMU.
Miller has been volunteering since 2012 and takes her 24-hour shifts on the weekend.
“One day I was not getting any calls, so I went to Walmart to get groceries and as soon as I walked in I got a call. I didn’t have my regular notebook with me, so I found a notebook in the store and just started writing,” Miller said.
The hotline is free and confidential and Ashley Standish, advocate coordinator, said all volunteers participate in a two-weekend training.
“We bring a variety of speakers at the training, like nurses, New Mexico State Police and many others,” Standish said.
The next training is Aug. 19 through 21 and Aug. 26 through 28.
Arise recently received $50,000 to construct a new building that will be located near Roosevelt General Hospital from the county’s Community Development Block Grant program.
“We are so excited about getting a new building. We really need it,” Standish said.