Staff Spotlight: Ashley Thompson
Ashley Thompson is Volunteer Manager at Newhouse. When she’s not connecting community members to service at Newhouse, you can find her enjoying BBQ with friends and family. Meet Ashley.
Her background and connection to Newhouse
This past May, Ashley completed her Bachelors in Social Work at Kansas State and has since started her Masters program at the University of Kansas. She’s decided to take a more macro focus for her MSW by emphasizing on the administration and policy.
Ashley was introduced to Newhouse during her social work internship where she had the opportunity to do some advocacy work and case management. During the internship Ashley fell in love with Newhouse’s mission and wasn’t ready to leave once the internship ended. Luckily the volunteer management position opened up, and it gave her a chance to keep working in the domestic violence space.
Her passion for helping others
Ashley always knew she wanted to spend her life helping others and thought she might end up as a trauma surgeon or veterinarian. However, in high school Ashley got involved with a domestic violence awareness and education group sponsored by Safehome in Overland Park, sparking an interest in helping survivors of domestic violence. But it wasn’t until she was graduating high school that she witnessed first hand the complexities and barriers surrounding survivors.
Your role as volunteer manager
“My overarching goal is to build a sound and structured volunteer program that is both engaging and fulfilling to those who want to volunteer with us.”
Ashley has had the opportunity to be creative in recruiting volunteers and attracting corporate groups. Working in the shelter is fast paced and our volunteer needs are always changing. Many volunteer projects involve sorting and putting away the donations that come in, as well as, beautifying the grounds – inside and out.
Overall, Ashley’s role is identifying needs and plugging volunteers in to help fill the gaps. She enjoys finding out what interests and skills the volunteers have and matching them with the appropriate department. This ensures that anyone who volunteers at Newhouse is set up for success.
Ashley recruits volunteers to support Newhouse’s monthly Children’s Program events and the annual Back to School Carnival.
The Children’s Program events are important for both residents and outreach clients. At the last one, Farmers Insurance brought and served meals to everyone, sponsored a few games and arts and crafts stations. Their volunteers helped with setup and clean up, too.
This year’s Back to School Carnival was sponsored by NASB. The event featured a bounce house, dunk tank, water balloon fight and a giant photo backdrop. The team of volunteers helped set-up, run the games and to top it all off put together some goody bags filled with snacks and toys for the kids to take home.
All Newhouse family events require a lot of support from volunteers to help at each station and interact with families. Corporate sponsors help make it an incredible experience for the guests to come and enjoy.
Currently, Newhouse is getting ready for our annual Holiday Boutique — a place where Newhouse families can shop for holiday gifts at no cost. Ashley says there is always a need for more people to host donation drives. Newhouse will also need volunteers closer to the holidays to help families shop.
With Halloween coming up, the shelter is in need of costumes for kiddos. Community Members can host a physical costume drive or costume fundraiser–to help buy specific costumes that the kids will need.
And lastly, our Imagine a Day Gala is coming up quickly in November. We need volunteers to help set-up and clean at the event, and staff the event. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in any of these opportunities.
Newhouse in one word
“Inclusive,” Ashley says. “We accept any survivor. We also are inclusive of our staff and their experiences. With a variety of backgrounds, it is important that everybody is heard. Each person brings a unique voice and perspective to the table.”
Joys outside of work
“Getting outside & spending time together at the park. We’re a classic KC family. We love BBQ, Jack Stack & Joe’s…Joe’s fries!” Ashley loves spending time with her family – her boyfriend, his daughter and her dog Montana, are a big part of her life.
Drawing and painting. Ashley says she used to draw nonstop, mostly pencil graphic work. She also loves reading sci-fi and fantasy books when she has some extra time.
Education and awareness matters
“For domestic violence, education and awareness is such a big piece for the community,” Ashley explains. “There are so many complexities. Someone who is experiencing domestic violence is also experiencing multiple other issues — systemic racism, poverty, or generational trauma. It is often something they experienced as a child and now they are experiencing it as an adult.”
Newhouse is focused on breaking the cycle of abuse through child intervention programs. And Newhouse accepts survivors of all genders — it doesn’t matter how you identify or who you love. If you’re experiencing domestic violence and need a safe place to go, Newhouse is here to help.
Thank you, Ashley, for serving survivors at Newhouse through your gifts and talents. To meet more members of Team Newhouse, visit here.