After experiencing bullying as a child, Cassie Holloway decided to give back to her community as an adult by becoming a mentor for middle school girls. She also dedicates much of her time to helping combat human trafficking in the Houston, Texas, area as a volunteer for Rescue Houston and Raising Elijah. Cassie spoke with Points of Light about her service story and how her faith has led her to help others.
Can you describe your current volunteer role as a mentor?
Once a week, I meet with about 8 to 12 middle school girls in a group setting. While we mostly talk about the topics given to us weekly from the sermon we listen to, there are always “tough” questions they ask that I have help them solve. For instance, I’ve been asked, “I see this girl all the time, but she is never with someone and eats lunch by herself. How can I become friends with her?” Or, “One of my friends is suicidal, what do I do?”
Working with children in middle school is one of the most difficult yet rewarding things I do. Sometimes, I meet with them individually to talk about personal issues they are having in their home or school.
One of my favorite things I do is go on mission trips with them and watch them do heavy labor and spread love to strangers all on lack of sleep with constant smiles on their faces. I have been to Houston and Glorieta, New Mexico with them. Their joy brings me joy.
Why do you think it’s important for people to give back?
I think it is important for people to give back because it’s what humanity is all about. By strengthening our communities, there is a sense of unity that overflows over us. We have the ability to learn new skills and share our expertise all while making an impact to someone’s life. I firmly believe that if you “live here you give here.” Living with the willingness to work for the betterment of others is something everyone should strive to do.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your volunteer work?
No matter whom I am working with or what I am doing, I love to see change. Whether it’s a change of heart or a change of feeling helpless to helped, making a difference in other people’s lives is something I cherish. I love seeing my middle school girls grow between sixth and eighth grade and how they have grown in maturity.
One big highlight for me when working with Rescue Houston, was when I was doing the phone bank ministry, and I called a woman who immediately needed help. She asked me how to file a domestic abuse report, and she wanted out. After giving her the helpline phone number, I had the opportunity to pray over her. She ended the conversation with, “Thank you,” and I learned the next day that she called in and was meeting with one of their exit mentors.
Why did you decide to volunteer with Rescue Houston?
When given an opportunity to go serve, do it. We will never know we are good at something until we try it. Every spring break, I spend my days working in the 3rd or 5th wards of Houston with impoverished children or neighborhoods by painting houses, playing with children in a nonprofit daycare setting, picking up trash in the neighborhood, building wheelchair ramps, or doing yard work for the elderly. I then spend my nights working with Rescue Houston and Elijah Rising.
My work with both Rescue Houston and Elijah Rising is impactful in a way beyond my comprehension. Some of the work that I have done with these organizations include: going to brothels in the area and speak with the exploited women by giving them hope, giving information to local restaurants and hotels about noticing signs of human trafficking and making phone calls to exploited women who are sold online. Rescue Houston created a 24/7 helpline and women who are being exploited can call and they help them find a way out, meet with them in person, help them through the process with police (such as if they were a minor, want to press charges, had children, etc.) and give them a place to stay.
The helpline number can be given out in two different ways: Directly telling them over the phone or through lipstick. Rescue Houston and Elijah Rising remove the actual barcode from lipsticks and replace it with a new “barcode” that looks identical; however, the new numbers in the barcode are their helpline phone number. This way, it’s not only functional to the women, but can always be with them without being suspicious to the exploiter.
What do you want people to learn from your story?
Volunteering can happen anytime, anywhere. Comfort zones are meant to be broken. Everyone has time to give; no one is too busy.