We are proud to announce our teen crisis hotline volunteer of the Month (December 2016), John Stainthorp.
We asked John, “how did you first get involved with the National Runaway Safeline?”
“It’s a family tradition. My daughter Rose started volunteering at NRS (then National Runaway Switchboard) when she was in high school but didn’t do it very long because she left Chicago when she graduated. Then my son Will started volunteering, first helping out around the office because he was not yet 16 (the minimum age for liners), and then becoming a liner and doing that until he went to college, as well as writing the NRS blog and being an NRS Board member. I was very grateful for the opportunity NRS gave Will to engage in serious, thoughtful volunteer work. So after that, with no young kids at home anymore, I thought it was time for me to step up.”
So what makes you keep coming back?
“I often think about the calls during the week between shifts. What could I have done differently, what other resources could I have accessed, what happened to the caller after the call. I think that I have helped some of the callers, even if it is only in having someone to talk to.”
What have you learned from your experiences here?
“I think I am a better listener, and better able to use some else’s ideas to explore options and formulate concrete plans to address issues.”
Can we have a fun fact about you?
“People know that I like to bike, but may not know that I race Cyclocross – the crazy form of biking where you bike across the grass, mud, sand, water, hop over barriers, around trees etc. In fact, a few years ago I was the Illinois state champion for my age group.”
Please share a story from your crisis service experience that stuck with you.
“There are so many: the 10-year-old who is so unhappy she is thinking about suicide; the 16-year-old who has been sexually abused by her dad and step-dad and no one believes her; the caring adults who call in to try to find out how to help young people they are not even related to and maybe just met; the Home Frees [family reunification program done in collaboration with Greyhound Lines, Inc.] where we could help, . . . and those where we couldn’t.”
Any last thoughts?
“You will probably never know the cases where you made a difference, but you did make a difference to some young person, whose life is better because of what you did.”
Thank you, John! We appreciate your work with the runaway, homeless, and at-risk youth we serve every day.