Today, we’re celebrating our Talkline Manager, Rachel’s, 2nd workiversary with Backline! Rachel started as a Talkline volunteer at our All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center in 2014 before coming onboard to help build and manage programs at the Center, including the Hoosier Abortion Fund. Her passion and energy for her work, as well as for the larger reproductive justice movement, is contagious and we’re so proud to share that she’s also recently been invited to serve on the National Network of Abortion Funds’ Summit Task Force! We feel lucky to learn and grow alongside Rachel every single day – and now it’s your turn! Read on for more!
Tell us a little bit about yourself! How did you come to work at Backline and then All-Options?
I moved to Bloomington to get my Master’s of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing. By the time I finished, I didn’t know what my next steps were or what I wanted to do with my life, so I stuck around Bloomington just long enough to see a call for Talkline Advocate applications from Backline. This was shortly after Wendy Davis’s epic and inspiring filibuster in Texas, and I knew I wanted to get involved in the reproductive rights, health, and justice movement — I just didn’t know how. I wanted to find a volunteer opportunity that wasn’t focused on any one pregnancy experience; I wanted to find something that supported all people in all of their glorious, painful, and complex experiences, and did it in a way that wasn’t just focused on short-term change, or putting a Band-aid on a bullet wound, as they say. When I found Backline and read their mission statement, I knew this was the place for me.
What’s your favorite thing about the work you do here?
I love working with and supporting our Talkline advocate cohorts. Our advocates are some of the most badass, big-hearted people you will ever meet, and it’s truly an honor to be able to support them as they hold space for people on the Talkline.
Why is an all-options approach to reproductive health and support important to you?
People are not defined by any one experience they have or decision they make, nor should they be. A person’s pregnancy decision is impacted by so many things — personal context and upbringing, societal attitudes, legislation, geography, finances, past pregnancy experiences. It seems really short-sighted and narrow to focus on only one kind of pregnancy experience that a person is having when so much influences who we are and the decisions we make with and about our bodies. I love that an all-options approach recognizes a person’s full lived experience and dignity that isn’t afforded to them in so many other contexts.
What’s your best Backline/All-Options memory to date and what are you looking forward to as we grow?
Probably my favorite Backline/All-Options memories to date have been my first Talkline shift as an advocate, and the first in-person peer counseling session I did here at the Center. In both memories, I was so nervous about saying the wrong thing or not being able to give people the support they needed. In both experiences, I left feeling so honored and humbled by folks’ willingness to be vulnerable and open with a complete stranger. I think about those firsts on hard days — they remind me that the work isn’t about me and my abilities, or any one person. It’s about all of us, living our lives and doing hard and self-reflective work together to build a world where everyone is free and supported to make the best pregnancy decisions for their lives and their families.
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise your Backline colleagues.
I am super competitive. I’m pretty good about keeping myself in check, but I have been known on (rare) occasion to rage cry while playing a board game.
What’s your favorite thing to do for fun?
Even though I’m not great at it, I really love baking. I also really love cooking — making my own meals and baked goods is such a grounding process for me. I’ve learned lots of good life lessons in patience and problem-solving. I also really love spooky movies and television, and I really love writing for my blog.
If you could have any one person, living or dead, over to your house for dinner, who would it be and what would you make?
This is such a hard question! I would love to have Audre Lorde and Roxane Gay over for dinner. I’d probably make either Filipino chicken adobo or this amazing stuffed autumn squash recipe I got from Alana Chernila’s cookbook. They’re both the only dishes I know I (probably) wouldn’t screw up for such an important dinner party!
If Backline’s mission were achieved and all ppl had the support and resources they needed for pregnancy parenting, abortion, and adoption experiences, where would you want to give more of your time?
There’s still so much to do. It’s hard to choose, but I would definitely dedicate more time to the environmental justice. And baking.