National Runaway Safeline

judith rodriguez 1


We sat down with Volunteer of the Month for October, Jackie Barron to discuss her journey with NRS. Jackie has been with NRS since April 2021.

NRS: What made you decide to volunteer with NRS?

Jackie: I went to a couple of volunteer orientations for different food pantries and never followed through with them. I don’t really know why. But I remember driving past the NRS office in Lakeview and something about it was really drawing me in. I can’t quite say what it was. I don’t have a strong affinity to teenagers or the issues they face, but maybe that’s why I felt like I could be helpful to the. I wasn’t going to get too broken up about it.

I remember myself at that age, as a teen, and thinking how nice it would have been to have someone to talk to. Before volunteering I came across a teenager who was passed out. Their friend was with them. I stopped to ask if they needed help, and the other kid said yes so I called 9-11. At the time it was the only thing I knew to do. I think now I would have done something different. I’m glad to be involved with NRS, it allows you to insert yourself in that moment in someone’s life and make a difference.

NRS: What keeps you coming back to volunteer week after week?

Jackie: (Laughs) Even when the conversation doesn’t go as well as I’d hoped I still feel good about it. Sometimes you give people 8 great ideas or things to consider and nothing seems to be resonating and they’re just as lost as when you started the conversation, I imagine that person later kind of reflecting back on what we talked about and maybe considering something in the conversation. It helps me to keep that perspective.

NRS: Tell us something you’ve learned from your experiences volunteering with us?

Jackie: I’ve learned how to not to jump to giving advice in everyday life. I tends to think I have great advice to give, but now I try to focus on the validation. If you focus on validation first they might be a little more open to hearing your suggestions later. 

NRS: Give us a Fun Fact about yourself that you don’t think someone would be able to guess just by meeting you.

Jackie: I am actually (or try to be) funny. I have to bite my tongue sometimes because I can be inappropriate. I’m also really infatuated with the lakefront and like to stare at the water. I love walking, biking out there a lot.


NRS: What would you say to someone who was thinking of volunteering with NRS?

Jackie: I feel like it’s this really easy way to feel like you helped the world be a better place. It’s not REALLY easy, there’s a lot of training and a big learning curve, but you don’t have to lift or chop or move something heavy to make an actual difference.

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