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Peace House has hired a new volunteer coordinator.

Whitney Atkinson, an Old Town resident who took the coordinator helm on July 1, started as a volunteer with the nonprofit’s domestic violence awareness and prevention team in 2018. Peace House provides resources for victims of domestic abuse, as well as education and outreach services.

“I started helping with that team in their outreach to elementary and high schools in the Wasatch Back,” Atkinson said.

The work was right up Atkinson’s alley. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah in sociology and a master’s degree from Westminster College in elementary education.

“I am interested in understanding how the world works and why it works that way, and sociology was a way for me to learn about that as much as I could,” she said. “The big focus with the master’s degree was on understanding humanities and societal backgrounds. So, my education focused on understanding where people come from, how to teach them and how to help people from diverse backgrounds.”

Atkinson came to Peace House after a varied career that has included stints as a kindergarten teacher, a case manager at Valley Behavioral Health in Salt Lake City, and most recently as a search engine optimization coordinator and human resource generalist at the technology start-up Huckabuy, Inc. in Park City.

Atkinson is co-chairman of the Summit County Domestic Violence Coalition, and was trained by Prevent Child Abuse Utah to instruct and lead presentations about healthy relationships to students in classes of all grade levels.

“As for coming to Peace House, I looked for a place where I could apply my background in sociology and teaching,” she said. “I also knew Peace House was a positive force in the community. Everyone I talked with told me if I wanted to put my time into something positive, I should reach out to them.”

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As Peace House’s volunteer coordinator, Atkinson, who will oversee all of the nonprofit’s many volunteers, wants to match people’s interests with one or more volunteer opportunities the nonprofit has to offer.

“Volunteers come to the table with diverse backgrounds, experiences and talents, and we have different needs,” she said. “In addition to direct-service volunteering with clients, we are in need of support services such as fundraising, creating community awareness and ongoing administrative, legal and technical support.”

Anyone interested in volunteering for Peace House can contact Atkinson directly at 435-776-6036 or [email protected]. Potential volunteers can also start their processes by filling out volunteer request forms on the website, she said.

Once Atkinson gets an application, she will call for an in-person interview.

“We start the clearance process and want them to sign the necessary paperwork,” she said.

Another way people can sign up is to take a volunteer onboard training session. Peace House typically holds sessions each month. During the sessions, potential volunteers learn about Peace House and its mission while undergoing training in suicide prevention and other hands-on duties, according to Sally Tauber, the nonprofit’s director of marketing.

“At the end of the sessions, people can decide if they want to do direct or indirect services,” she said. “Those who want to do direct volunteering go on to the next training, based on their interests.”

Direct services require volunteers to work closely with families and victims who have been affected by domestic violence.

Others can engage in different, less-intense forms of volunteering, Atkinson said.

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“They can lead tours, help in the office and work on events,” she said.

Since Peace House is preparing to open its new multi-million dollar campus, the nonprofit currently needs volunteers who can help the staff with organization, Atkinson said.

“We simply need people to help us find places for all of our stuff,” she said, laughing.

Working for Peace House has been and will continue to be a perfect fit for Atkinson, she said.

“Having the ability to put my energy in such a positive force while collaborating with so many competent and caring individuals is living my dream,” she said.

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