Volunteer Spotlight: Ronda Abel

Volunteer Spotlight: Ronda Abel

Most weeks, you can find Ronda Abel volunteering in Peace River Center’s Empowerment Boutique, sorting through items donated for our domestic violence survivors and their children. Her involvement started in 2021 after donating items to our Thrift Shoppe. But this was not the first time Ronda felt called to help others. In the early 1980s, Ronda answered crisis calls at a mental health call center in Tampa, and she later retired from working as an assistant at the State of Florida Department of Health.

“I feel like I’m serving a purpose while also having fun,” Abel said about volunteering. “When we receive name-brand or brand-new items, I try to send those to the Thrift Shoppe since I know they will sell well there, which helps generate money for Peace River Center. But when someone donates a bag of matching children’s tee shirts, I know they will get used at the shelter.”

Ronda also helps at Peace River Center events such as the Coffee Benefit and stuffs holiday bags for our clients. But, as someone who has a family history of domestic violence, Ronda feels passionate about helping victims. She began volunteering more frequently at our Empowerment Boutique in May 2023.

“I love helping people pick out clothes. Sometimes, a survivor will come to the boutique and need help picking out clothes for work. If they have never been able to decide something for themselves, they often don’t know what to do. They go in circles when it comes to decisions because of the physical and mental abuse they have previously endured. They don’t trust their decisions or fear that whatever they decide will be wrong. Because that’s what they’ve always been told.” Ronda enjoys lending her business expertise and helping boost survivors’ confidence when they try on outfits.

The Empowerment Boutique allows survivors to pick out clothing and household items. Payment is never required, but thanks to dedicated volunteers like Ronda always processing new donations and ensuring that the area looks nice, we create a boutique shopping experience. The goal is to give survivors back power and control.

Ronda said what sets Peace River Center apart from other nonprofit organizations is the compassion our employees and volunteers show. “I’m old school in that whatever I can do to help, whatever it takes to pitch in, I will offer a hand. If I’m unable to help, I’ll help find someone who can. And I think that resonates throughout the agency. At the end of the day, the job must get done, and it does not matter who does it. More hands make for lighter work.”

Because of Ronda’s dedication to making “lighter work,” our Empowerment Boutique and survivors shine brighter. We cannot thank her enough!