It’s our last Advocate Spotlight of 2016 and for this one, we’re celebrating Deborah Meader’s three years volunteering at All-Options! Deborah has provided incredible and reliable support to the whole All-Options team in the office and beyond. We’re so happy to have an opportunity to recognize all of Deborah’s fabulous work and give the Backline and All-Options community a chance to get to know her!
How did you first get involved with Backline and All-Options and how long have you been volunteering?
As a volunteer counselor at Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK), I routinely referred patients to Backline. It was the only free resource of its kind available. It would have felt insensitive, as well as irresponsible, to send a woman home without some support. I had an opportunity to meet Shelly Dodson when she was doing outreach for Backline and All-Options, about 3 years ago. I’ve been involved on some level since that time.
What’s your favorite thing about volunteering at All-Options?
Knowing I am supporting the reproductive justice community. And of course there are the wonderful people who make All-Options the great place it is. The mission-driven atmosphere at the office is motivating. Reproductive justice will prevail because of people like Shelly, Rachel, and Amanda. And of course, all of the Radvocates, staff, and board who are part of this great organization.
What has surprised you most in your work with us?
I’ve been volunteering at PPINK since 2004 as a counselor and as the patient escort coordinator. I remember the pre-Roe v Wade days. I’ve marched. I’ve protested. I’ve badgered legislators. I feel like I’ve been involved. Having said that, I was very surprised at the mobilization behind abortion access and only last year became aware of the National Abortion Federation. Spending too much time at PPINK with the anti-choice crowd skewed my sense of how strong the pro-choice movement is. We are not going anywhere, except forward.
And lest we remain too despondent over the Trump regime, turn to the women of Poland for inspiration! With the government’s threat to ban abortion, tens of thousands of women protested in strikes across the country on “Black Monday”. It was a massive and successful show of defiance in this very Catholic country with a new ultra-right government. And these women won this showdown!
Why is an all-options approach to reproductive health and support so important?
You cannot deliver reproductive health services with any integrity when you bring judgment to this role. People need to be heard. They need information, not opinions. They need to be connected to community resources. I think it is important to assume the clients know what is best for them. The All-Options model is really about “best practices”. I’ve worked in social services all my life. In my experience, few social service agencies approach clients in this way. I think they want to, but in reality often don’t. You will increase the chances of positive outcomes when you respect the client. You reduce frustration and develop better client-provider relationships. All-Options is doing this.
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise your Backline colleagues.
I am a dancing fool. I thought I would get beyond this as I got older (I’m 63), but I am still willing to make a fool of myself on the dance floor. Sigh.
What is your favorite thing to do for fun?
I can’t say in a public forum such as this. 🙂
If Backline’s mission were achieved and all people had the support and resources they needed for pregnancy, parenting, abortion, and adoption experiences, where would you volunteer your time?
I’m involved with the Bloomington Refugee Support Network and would probably focus more energy and time to that worthy cause. Again, it’s working with women and families, so there would still be a lot of overlap.