Beth – Saint Paul, MN
For National Volunteer Week, we’re celebrating the grassroots volunteers who power Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood Action Fund by sharing their stories.
Tell us a little about yourself.
“I live in Saint Paul with my husband, one-year-old son, dog, and two cats. It's a bit of a zoo around our house! I teach writing in an online university, love to read, and have been trying to learn how to embroider.”
Why did you choose to volunteer for Planned Parenthood?
“I felt absolutely horrible after the 2016 election. I really felt like I had fell asleep at the wheel, and I felt really bad that I hadn't been more actively involved. I had passively trusted that the election would take care of itself, but I really woke up after Hillary Clinton lost. I realized that if I wanted to see a change in our world, I'd have to get actively involved to help make that happen. For me, access to reproductive health care is essential to women's equality, and I knew it would be in jeopardy with the Trump administration. Volunteering with Planned Parenthood was an obvious choice because of all the good they do in providing comprehensive reproductive health care.”
What’s the best and worst experience you’ve ever had volunteering?
“My best experience volunteering was when I went canvassing right after the primaries. Every person we talked to that day talked enthusiastically about voting in the primaries and how excited they were about Planned Parenthood and the candidates. It was great to get such good feedback about the candidates, but also that these people were so energized to vote in the primaries. It made me feel like there really is a great community out there that supports Planned Parenthood.
It's actually hard to remember a bad experience volunteering because they are so easily eclipsed by the good experiences (and usually, a bad experience is immediately followed by a positive one.) I do remember one time when I was phone banking and a caller said she supports access to birth control, but doesn't like federal money being spent on abortion. When I tried to explain to her that federal money doesn't go toward abortion at Planned Parenthood, she wasn't really hearing me. That was frustrating mostly because it seems indicative of the misunderstandings I often hear in the media and even from politicians. At the same time, I also hope that my little nudging in the right direction might make a difference for her at some point.”
What motivates you to volunteer for Planned Parenthood?
“I'm motivated to volunteer because I know the difference access to essential reproductive health care services can make in a person's life. I've been very fortunate to always have access to the care I've needed, but I know not everyone does. If I'm feeling unmotivated, I also think back to the morning after the 2016 election and how I felt that day. I know that it's impossible to ensure I won't ever experience a political loss like that again, but I can be actively involved so I know I did everything I could to make a difference. That feeling of helplessness isn't something I enjoyed, and volunteering helps me feel engaged and productive with my rage at everything that's been going on.”
What would you tell someone who is afraid to do it?
“If you're afraid of volunteering—or even if it just feels uncomfortable—I'd encourage you to think about what vision of the future, you want to see. What do you want reproductive rights and access to health care to look like in 1, 3, 5 years? That vision is entirely possible, but only if we get involved, and it's totally worth it. I always get momentarily nervous with each call I make or door I knock, but then I focus on my goals and why I'm doing this, and that moment passes. And I promise, the feeling after completing a volunteer shift is amazing!”
Want to hear more from volunteers? Check out our stories from other volunteer leaders.
Become a Volunteer
Volunteering is a great way to build power in your community and meet other folks who share your values. Sign up to become a volunteer for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund in Minnesota today.