National Runaway Safeline

Why I Have Worked at a Runaway Youth Hotline for 17Years | Larry Miller

By Larry Miller, Crisis Services Supervisor

I first heard about NRS while attending college and looking for a place to do some volunteer work. I knew it had to be something working with youth and families. As it so happened, it was a perfect fit at the runaway youth hotline. I bought into the mission right away as the staff made us feel like one big family with a common goal of giving back to the community. I later became part of the staff and it has been an experience I will treasure for a lifetime.

Having the opportunity to listen and help someone in need is a very rewarding experience.

Sometimes our callers just want someone to listen and not try and tell them what to do.

That’s what we are all about here at NRS; providing a listening ear while being non- judgmental. Most of our callers are youth and teens that are either thinking about running away or have been kicked out of their home. The NRS’ mission of helping to keep America’s runaway, homeless and at-risk youth safe and off the streets is a 24-hour demand.

I’ve had calls from teens that may be going through tough times at home because the communication within the home has broken down. They feel that they have nowhere to turn and that there is no one that understands what they are feeling. By contacting NRS,  they are given a chance to be heard and express feelings they have kept bottled up for some time.

One call that stands out for me is a conversation that started with a frustrated mother calling about the strained relationship between her and her daughter.

After the mother listened to her daughter, she asked if I could possibly talk with her daughter which I only agreed to do if her daughter was willing.

The daughter agreed. She talked about why she felt frustrated with her mother. The reason she said was because she felt her mom did not trust her when it came to having a social life that included having a boyfriend.

No matter how much she tried to tell her mother she was being responsible she felt like it was falling on deaf ears. After discussing her frustrations and trying to come up with options that might help improve communication I asked if we might try a mediation and include her mother on the line. They both agreed and were finally able to communicate constructively through mediation.

They each agreed to the ground rules of being respectful of one another by listening to each other’s concerns. They talked listened and finally came away with a better understanding for one another’s position. I later received an update from them both saying that they were doing much better and were thankful for NRS and it’s service.

I’ve had many difficult calls that have left me with an everlasting impression that there are so many kids and young adults that are in need of help. NRS does its best to meet callers’ needs. The bravery and determination of these callers are remarkable.

They are surviving because they have been doing it so long that they don’t know any other way.

Our callers make me more inspired and determined to get to my next shift and picking up that phone, answering a live chat, email or a bulletin post from the NRS forum.

Why do I do it?  I believe in the mission of NRS. I believe that when someone like our callers has the courage to reach out they deserve to be heard and supported.

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