The International Cesarean Awareness Network is powered by the selfless efforts of our numerous volunteers. We cannot thank our dedicated volunteers enough for their cooperation and service in assisting ICAN with accomplishing its mission.
In an effort to acknowledge some of our amazing volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to offer support, education, and advocacy for the mothers in their area, the International Cesarean Awareness Network is pleased to announce Julie Herr as the May 2015 Volunteer of the Month.
Julie Herr, this month’s honoree, is a chapter leader with both ICAN of St. Louis and ICAN of Southwestern Illinois. In addition to volunteering as a chapter leader, Julie is also the Regional Coordinator for the Midlakes Region. During her 10+ years of service to ICAN, she was also one of the organizers responsible for the original VBAC Policy Database.
Get to know our May 2015 Volunteer of the Month:
How long have you been an ICAN member?
I have been an ICAN member and volunteer for a little over 10 years.
How did you first find ICAN?
I found out about ICAN while I was researching my birth options when I was pregnant with my daughter. I was having a hard time finding a provider because of the VBAC ban in my community. I got involved with ICAN after my daughter was born. I knew I wanted mothers in my community to know their options.
What motivates you as a volunteer?
I am motivated when I feel that I can help others make a change for the better in their lives, communities, or organizations.
Do you have a profession or any other passions outside of ICAN?
Currently, I am a professional volunteer helping to organize for the betterment of community youth in areas such as my children’s school library, my daughter’s girl scout troop and scout sponsored First Lego League team. My children are involved with the Belleville Philharmonic Youth Orchestra so I volunteer with this as well. I recently coordinated an area-wide Concerto Competition, almost doubling the number of participants from last year. I also volunteer where I can in my church – at the moment it is with Meals on Wheels. My professional and volunteer life has involved 25 years of working with volunteers in community organizing, and nonprofit program development. I am passionate about making sure that people have a voice in their community and in their lives (including birth). I am also passionate about networking people and organizations together to work towards common goals.
What was your proudest moment as an ICAN volunteer? What about your hardest?
I have two proudest ICAN moments. The first was helping coordinate volunteers to complete the VBAC hospital policy project. I am not necessarily a phone person but when I ran out of volunteers I realized that I was going to have to make a ton of calls myself. My coleader Ruthie and I, as well as many many ICAN volunteers, put a lot of blood, sweat and tears (not to mention phone minutes) into this project. It felt fantastic when as a team we completed the database and had some real results for all our hard work. Plus, the project got mention in a Time Magazine Article.
My next proudest moment was putting together a collaborative team of individuals and organizations to bring the Karen Brody play, Birth, to the St. Louis area. I knew that this event would be so much richer and more successful if we had many people with many different networks invested in this event. The first year was a lot of hard work but by the third year, it was a great success reaching several hundred people and earning several thousand in sponsorships!
Some of the hardest moments as an ICAN volunteer is trying to help mothers in areas where there are no VBAC resources and learning to let go of the outcome. This may mean helping mothers to accept that a repeat cesarean doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience. It can be a family-centered experience that brings some healing and closure to their prior experience.
Thank you Julie for all that you do to support birthing women!