Our Talkline is the heart of our work at Backline and our radvocates keep it pumping with their commitment to providing comprehensive care to callers who are seeking support on pregnancy, parenting, abortion, and adoption. Over the past several months, we’ve held two transformative retreats for our peer counseling volunteers and brought in our newest cohort of radvocates at All-Options. What an amazing group of people we have giving their time and energy to Backline!
This year’s summer peer counseling retreats in Bloomington, IN and Portland, OR both took on the theme of Radvocacy: Love & Heart Work – does it get any cooler than this?! The goals of our retreats are to build community among advocates and cohorts while creating space for deep exploration of how volunteering as an advocate connects to our individual passions, love, and overall sustainability.
At each retreat, radvocates and staff participated in creative movement exercises, created passion maps around what fuels our dedication to the work, and built shared art pieces around the themes of love and community. There was lots of laughter, reflection, collaboration, recharging, and sharing of stories. Our All-Options Program Manager, Rachel, even created a super cool coloring book filled with inspiring quotes and social justice leaders for all the volunteers to take with them following the retreat as a memento. We promise it’s as cool as it sounds – RBG on a unicorn is nothing short of amazing!
Both the Bloomington and Portland cohorts overlap in the content of the retreat, but they also each partake in a fun, relaxing activity. For our Bloomington crew, this looked like soaking up the Indiana heat and sunshine on a boat in Lake Monroe where we made great use of the slide! The Portland cohort spent their retreat nestled in the lush forests outside of Mount Hood where they played games, made food, and hiked along the Salmon River. We’re intentional about making sure our volunteers have time to connect with one another, decompress, and have fun together – healthy, happy radvocates means the best support for folks who call the Talkline or visit us at All-Options for peer counseling!
As we work to continue nourishing our existing volunteer cohorts, we’re also growing! In May, the Hoosier community expanded to include the addition of 9 new radvocates. They made it through 40+ hours of intensive peer counseling training, exploring their values and beliefs around pregnancy, parenting, abortion, and adoption within a reproductive justice framework. Together, we laughed, cried, and engaged in some serious real talk, but all came out the other side ready to provide open-hearted, all-options support to Backline and All-Options clients. We just love our network of radvocates!