In Metro Volunteers first year running the Pro Bono Mental Health Program we have served over 512 low income Coloradoans in the Denver area. Our therapists in Pueblo and Denver provided 4,104 hours of pro bono services worth $410,400. On average our volunteers provide over a full work day a month of pro bono services.
In honor of Mental Health Month, I would like to highlight the work of one of our most active volunteers. Pamala Kaiser-Helmick, who remains one of our founding volunteers of the program, has donated over 126 hours of pro bono counseling over the five months she has been volunteering with us. What an amazing contribution.
From the start of her involvement as a volunteer in our program, Pamala has come with an eager attitude towards helping in as many ways as possible. Our Pro Bono Mental Health Community is lucky to enjoy her growth-oriented mindset and positive energy at all of our events. We value her consistent pro bono services at Safe House and Warren Village, two of our community host site partners. Pamala recently opened up a private practice in Littleton. Prior to her pro bono and private practice work, she established a disabilities case management firm and has worked at the Karlis Family Center, a domestic violence center.
Pamala, tell us a little bit about you. Where are you from? What do you do for fun? What other types of volunteerism do you participate in?
I’m was born and raised right here in Colorado. My hobbies include: teaching Zumba Fitness Classes (my therapy!), camping, hiking, soaking in several of Colorado’s natural hot springs, gardening, various craft projects, and spending as much time as possible with my 2 sons and husband. Some other volunteer work I do on a regular basis is fostering puppies from a local rescue, and assisting a friend with a charity she runs collecting clothes, running clothing drives, and organizing special events.
What type of therapist are you training to be?
My M.A. is from CU Denver in Counseling Psychology, with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy, but I’m currently working on the hours to complete a LPC. I plan to obtain my LMFT in the near future as well.
Tell us about your work at your host sites i.e. who are you serving and what type of pro bono work are you offering.
I’m volunteering at Warren Village, a transitional housing program for low income single parents. I’m a therapist there one day a week. I’m also volunteering at SafeHouse Denver, a homeless shelter for domestic violence victims, as a therapist a couple of hours a week. I just recently started doing pro-bono work in a private practice setting one day a week as well.
What do you find most rewarding about your pro bono work? What other benefits do you receive from the program?
The most rewarding aspect would certainly be the clients I have met and had the privilege to work with over these last few months. It’s an honor to be even a small part in their healing process. Most of these clients would not have the opportunity to access mental health services outside of the pro bono program. While this experience in and of itself is a huge benefit, some of the other benefits include that I am able to complete a large amount of the required hours towards state licensure through the program. Metro Volunteers regularly offers access to trainings, workshops, and seminars that are educational and beneficial in the field of counseling. I have been matched with an amazing pro bono clinical supervisor through the program.
And you are currently being supervised by another volunteer offering you pro bono supervision? What has that experience been like?
I am! I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I am that we were paired up! Not only has my supervisor been invaluable with her guidance in my clinical supervision, but she has also been beyond helpful with advice and mentoring in the world of private practice and the business aspects of therapy and counseling. I feel lucky and blessed to have crossed paths with her at this point in my career. She is compassionate, encouraging, and inspiring. I have already decided that I will be volunteering in the pro bono program as a supervisor myself a few years down the road.
What would you say to a prospective volunteer or mental health colleague about volunteering?
Do it! It’s been an extremely rewarding experience and I’ve had the opportunity to work with people through the pro bono program that I likely wouldn’t have had otherwise. There is a lot of flexibility within the program to meet your schedule and availability. The staff at Metro Volunteers are some of the warmest and friendliest people I have ever worked with.
A warm expression of gratitude to all of our Pro Bono Mental Health Volunteer!