Fun Fact (something people may not know already about you):
I have had a LOT of different jobs — everything from making sandwiches at Potbelly, to working as a French diplomat, to (almost) being lowered into a giant sewer tunnel during an internship.
How did you first become involved with NRS?
About a year and a half ago, I was looking for opportunities to volunteer with kids and teens, and the mission of NRS really resonated with me. Everyone I met during the training was so passionate and knowledgeable, and it was easy to fit in shifts around my schedule.
What keeps you coming back?
Aside from the great snacks in the call center, the sense of purpose and knowing you were able to help someone — sometimes even in just a small way — has been really rewarding.
What have you learned from your experiences here?
Even in the worst of circumstances, people can remain hopeful and resilient. Some calls are hard, but the courage of the youth who reach out for help is truly inspiring. I also think being on the lines has made me a better listener overall!
Give us a story from your experience that stuck with you:
I don’t think I will ever forget Mary using Google Maps to help a disoriented caller figure out where he was, and literally, walk him step by step from inside a Burger King to the closest bus stop, all while making sure he was safe and completing the Home Free process with his mom. It was like watching a real-life guardian angel at work!
Another call that sticks out was from a teenager who was worried his girlfriend might be pregnant. You could hear how scared and powerless he felt, but we talked through it and made a plan. At the end of the call, when I asked him how he heard about NRS, he hesitated and then admitted he used to prank call the number when he was younger! It gave me a different perspective on prank calls — you never know what kind of impact you might have on someone down the road.
Open Mic Moment (this is your chance to say to all volunteers whatever you would like):
Sorry to be cheesy, but you inspire me every shift! Even though we all go through the same training, we all have different gifts and experiences that we bring to the crisis services center, and it has been really cool to experience that firsthand. I’m so grateful to be able to learn from the other volunteers.
If you are in the Chicago area and interested in becoming a youth crisis services volunteer at NRS, sign up for an upcoming Volunteer Orientation. Please e-mail Jamin Draves, Volunteer Coordinator, at JDraves@1800RUNAWAY.org with any questions.