Meet the Volunteer of the Decade!

posted August 29, 2012

Carolina Gonzalez-Villar
Rachel Falls Compassion Awardee and Volunteer of the Decade

Carolina joined Exhale in 2003, and for almost ten years she has shown astounding compassion and consistency to our callers, especially to our Spanish-speakers. To honor her for her tremendous presence and leadership, Carolina has been chosen by her peers to receive the 4th annual Rachel Falls Compassion Award and will be presented with Exhale’s first ever Volunteer of the Decade award at our 10th Anniversary Celebration on October 4th in San Francisco.

A champion Pro-Voice practitioner

While in college, Carolina began volunteering for Planned Parenthood and then moved into a position as medical assistant at Planned Parenthood Golden Gate.  Her first clinic manager was an alumna of Exhale’s volunteer counselor program, and Carolina wanted to be just like her- active in the reproductive health field, a clinic manager, and an Exhale volunteer. 

Carolina began volunteering for Exhale soon after. “The counselor training was the best training I have ever been a part of,” says Carolina. “My favorite part, and something I use at work with patients, is repeating back to the caller what they have just said to me.”

Carolina has been present for much of Exhale’s growth. She started volunteering for Exhale when two calls a night was busy, these days that is considered a slow night.  In the early years, taking calls from Spanish-speakers was a goal; Carolina played an important role making this happen.  “Being a bilingual counselor is the best part.  I really enjoy being able to give back to the Spanish speaking community.”

After 8 years of taking primarily Spanish-speaking calls she took a step back and retired from her counselor role on the talkline.  Carolina continued to be active with Exhale by sharing her abortion story at the counselor trainings and giving new counselors a tour of the abortion clinic where she served as a manager, this “walk- in-her shoes” is one of Exhale’s most important training components for new volunteer counselors. Over the last decade Carolina has filled many roles in the Exhale community, including: Talkline Counselor, Exhale Ambassador at two reproductive health conferences, presenter, and Transition Team Member, where she took on additional responsibilities during a challenging time for Exhale’s staff.  Recently, Carolina began working for the Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley as a clinic supervisor.

In July 2012, Carolina decided to return to Exhale as an active counselor. “I just couldn't stay away, ” says Carolina. “If someone had told me in May 2001 when I graduated that I would be where I am now I wouldn’t have believed them, but now I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else but working for a community clinic and volunteering for Exhale. These last 10 years have been very memorable for me”

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Exhale is a 501(c)3 organization (EIN/tax ID: 94-3393719)