STAMFORD, Conn. -- Jessica Buchanan realized quickly that working as a copy writer for an advertising agency was not her calling. A volunteer role with the Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education, based in Stamford, helped her find a new path.
Buchanan, a 24-year-old Norwalk resident, was recently promoted to Outreach and Prevention Coordinator for The Center. It is the next step in a whirlwind ascent that started in May 2013 when she started as a hotline volunteer and shortly thereafter earned a staff position as a community educator.
“I didn’t expect anything of it,’’ Buchanan said. “I really just wanted to volunteer and get my feet wet in a nonprofit field. I wasn’t planning on it. It ended up working out.”
Buchanan, a Pennsylvania native, graduated from Temple University in 2012 and worked for eight months in advertising.
“I felt like I was forcing my creativity,’’ she said. “I felt like I was duping people. I couldn’t really get behind the products. I kind of knew it going into it that it really wasn’t for me, but I thought I might end up liking it. I should have trusted my gut on that one.”
She met The Center’s Executive Director, Ivonne Zucco, at auditions for a local production of “The Vagina Monologues.” Soon after, she joined The Center as a volunteer. After she finished her training, a position opened up for an educator, and Buchanan landed the job.
Her advertising job seems incongruous with her new line of work, but Buchanan says there are similarities.
“It seems far removed from advertising, but it really isn’t,’’ she said. “I try to convince people to care about this issue. It’s basically advertising in a non-profit world. It’s delivering a message, but in a different realm.”
As a community educator, Buchanan frequently visited schools to make presentations to students. In her new role, she will coordinate scheduling with schools, work on outreach with other community organizations and help raise awareness for the center. She will also assist in fundraising and development. “I think my advertising background will be a big help in this role,’’ Buchanan said.
Buchanan said she enjoys her work for The Center, which serves Darien, New Canaan, Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport, Weston and Wilton. The Center was formed in 1979 and provides services for all victims of sexual abuse, including women, children and men.
Unlike her brief advertising career, Buchanan said she can get behind the message for The Center. “We wish for a world free of sexual violence,’’ she said. “Not just those it happened to, but their families, too. We need to talk to people so that they become aware of it. I think I have a passion for this work that definitely wasn’t there in advertising.”
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