Our October volunteer of the month is Claudia V. Claudia is a dedicated paralegal based in New York City (NYC), where she resides and works. Her passion for continual learning shines through her proactive approach to attending court cases beyond her immediate involvement, seizing every opportunity to enhance her knowledge and skills. She will also tell you that she’s equally excited about being a true NYC-foodie, and thinks that food is one of the greatest things NYC has to offer. Though she has a tough time deciding, her favorite cuisines are Italian and Mediterranean.
In her spare time, Claudia loves playing volleyball and is planning to start her own team. In the past she has also coached volleyball, but currently is looking to focus on being a stronger competitor. When she wants to relax, she has no problem falling into a good book and is committed to studying the intricacies of human trafficking.
Her interest in understanding the complexities of human trafficking propelled her interest in volunteering with the National Runaway Safeline. Claudia explained that it has always been difficult for her to conceptualize how young people end up in these situations, but over the years has come to the conclusion that there is no simple answer. She has come to realize that each situation is unique, and she now understands that it is more common for a young person to find themselves in unfortunate circumstances than many people might believe. She started volunteering as a way learn the best ways to help people experiencing crisis.
She joined the NRS Volunteer training in 2021, and has been volunteering on a weekly basis and spreading awareness ever since. Friends often ask if Claudia knows she’s helping people. For Claudia, the true reward comes from knowing that she is probably one of the first places that many young people reach out for help. Claudia says that this puts her, and other volunteers, in a unique position to ensure young people are not met with judgment or expectations. Instead, they are given the opportunity to fully express themselves, and take the lead in a very important conversation about their needs now and in the future. Even though volunteers don’t often know the outcome of their calls, Claudia feels proud knowing that the young person on the other end of the line knows there are people out that that can help them, and that they have hope.
Claudia recalls being out with friends when they witnessed a scary situation with a domestic dispute between a man and woman. When a friend instinctively tried to intervene and jump to the woman’s defense, Claudia knew that wasn’t the best way to ensure her safety. Through the NRS volunteer training, and studying crises like human trafficking and domestic abuse, Claudia helped her friend understand that they could create a dangerous situation for the young woman at home. Instead of deciding what was best for her, the best thing to do was find an opportunity to discreetly make sure she knew that there was help available if she needed it, in the moment or in the future.
Ultimately, Claudia does not see her volunteerism as heroic, because the young people who reach out to NRS aren’t often looking for a savior. They need a real person who can meet them where they are, and help them understand the things they can control. Building a genuine connection is crucial so that they trust the volunteers enough to engage in an open and realistic conversation about their situation. This connection is essential for informing the decisions they make independently.