Interested in volunteering with Planned Parenthood but not sure where to start? You can sign up to volunteer right here. But first, hear from our volunteers directly about two of our most beloved volunteer programs: the Health Center Advocacy Program and the clinic escorts program.
Both programs start with comprehensive trainings, and volunteers receive continued support — everyone gets plenty of prep and resources to confidently carry out their program tasks, before and during their volunteer time. Emma F. has been a member of the Health Center Advocacy Program (HCAP) for a few years. Through HCAP, Emma asks current Planned Parenthood patients to share their stories about sexual and reproductive health care. She approaches patients in the waiting room of the Planned Parenthood health center to discuss bills or initiatives that affect reproductive health care. HCAP is “a storytelling campaign about connecting an individual person’s life to a policy,” Emma says.
Talking to current patients about their stories with reproductive health care matters for several reasons. It can be an avenue for folks who are interested in becoming patient advocates with Planned Parenthood, going on to share their stories at events, legislative hearings, or with the media. It can be a way for people to share their stories in support of bills concerning reproductive health and rights. And it can be a way for someone who wants to tell their story but hasn’t found an opportunity to do so in a confidential, supportive setting.
“I always feel incredibly honored,” Emma says. “I see myself as providing this venue through which, if you’ve never thought about contacting your legislator before or you’ve never shared this story before, you can do it. And someone in power will read it and learn more about making MA policy reflect what the constituency wants.”
She adds, “Plus the clinic escorts are badass.”
One of those badass clinic escorts is Grace A., who has spent many hours working as a clinic escort outside Planned Parenthood’s Boston health center. She and her escort colleagues welcome patients and guide them to the doors. Escorts are especially important when abortion opponents are present outside the health centers to shame and scare patients. “We act as a balance in terms of using our bodies as a way to signal that [patients] are not alone,” she says. “[We] create space.”
For someone interested in becoming a clinic escort, Grace says the very first shift can be nerve-wracking but it rapidly gets easier. “You have other escorts there with you, so you can rely on them and watch what they do, which is really helpful,” Grace says. Clinic escorts can always count on continued support from Planned Parenthood staff and the other escorts, for the first shift and every one after.
Grace says that clinic escorts are “super visible, which means we get a lot of praise from passersby. It can feel very performative to just stand out there, but we know it’s valuable to our patients.” Escorts help both staff and patients feel safe and supported.
“This is one of the volunteer roles that really speaks to me,” Grace says. “It’s a way to act out my values and cement them.”
Like HCAP, the clinic escort program focuses on improving the experiences of the people seeking sexual and reproductive health care.
“Planned Parenthood volunteers make all the work that we do possible. Their commitment, skill, and dedication ensure that we are able to meet our goals,” says Kaila Eckstein, Planned Parenthood’s Volunteer Coordinator. “We could not achieve what we do without them.”
Sign up to take action in the fight for reproductive freedom in Massachusetts.