MAX N. IS THE FEBRUARY 2023 VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH
NRS friends and supporters may remember 2022 NRPM Award winner Max Neri, who was honored for his involvement in his own community as a NRPM Youth Ambassador. Max is now being recognized by the NRS staff as the Volunteer of the Month!
When the school year began in fall of 2021, Max started looking for ways to volunteer in ways that were more personal and socioemotional, hoping to form more personal connections with young people looking for help. Lucky for Max, these types of connections came from supporting young people, and from working alongside NRS staff members, who he found surprisingly helpful. “At NRS I know that changing is happening because I’m talking directly with people and I can see it happen.”
Through his journey volunteering with NRS, Max has noticed an uptick of young people experiencing peer and social issues. “One thing that I found a little bit interesting, particularly after COVID, is that sometimes I’ll ask youth ‘have you talked to family about this,’ and the youth will say, ‘I Don’t have any friends.’ A lot of youth had a whole year or two out of the school setting, so they couldn’t make new friends and new connections. If you have a home environment that isn’t comforting, that can make it hard to transition back into the school setting.”
Max prefers to advocacy work that is focused on mental health and social wellbeing. He is a member of his school’s psychology club, where there is a large focus on crisis prevention and spreading awareness about mental health services offered by his school. This includes sharing positive affirmations and mental health tips through morning announcements, or expressing the importance of taking advantage of the council program available in his school.
Outside of mental health advocacy, Max serves as a member of DECA, a business fraternity that strives to help young people channel their ambitions into achievements. Through each summer, Max works part-time at an urgent care clinic, where he is able to use skills he’s learned from volunteering at NRS. “NRS has definitely supplied me with a lot of social intelligence skills and compassion and learning how to listen. When you have a role like that, it’s easy to forget the person element and that you’re talking to a real human being. NRS has reminded his to keep the human element in mind in all interactions. The iCarol software also helped me easily transition to the client logging software used at the clinic.”
Max’s favorite hobbies are reading and writing, and he likes writing ideas for novels and screenplays. Even though he hasn’t written a full screenplay or novel, he appreciates having a relaxing creative outlet. Too keep track of his own mental health, Max likes to journal. At the end of every day he will write out a recap of events and emotion, making sure to cap each entry with what could make tomorrow a better day.