Board member Tom Lawler shares his thoughts on NRS.

As an NRS (National Runaway Safeline) board member, we all are empowered to spread the NRS mission wherever and to whomever we can: Keeping’s America’s runaway, homeless and at-risk youth safe and off the streets.

Why I Support NRS - Tom Lawler, Board Member, National Runaway Safeline

That mission seems noble enough, but today I’m being asked to share a bit on why I personally support NRS.



1) The staff. Led by NRS’ Executive Director Maureen Blaha (16 years and counting), the NRS staff is a small, energetic team of problem solvers. Leveraging a can-do culture that starts with Maureen, this tight, committed group of professionals tackles critical challenges with enthusiasm. How can we reach a national audience of donors, parents and at-risk youth with a limited marketing budget? How can we affect change on a legislative level to protect our nation’s endangered youth? How should we adapt to an ever-changing world of technology and youth trends to keep our services relevant and accessible to those who need them most? These kinds of questions would keep a team of consultants busy for weeks, but this is all in a day’s work for the NRS staff.

2) The volunteers. So although I just praised how much NRS can accomplish with such a small staff, the reason this is possible is because of our great group of volunteers. Without the volunteers, NRS simply couldn’t meet its mission of staffing a 24-7 hotline for runaway, homeless and at-risk youth. Our volunteers vary widely in age and background, but they all commit to one-year of service and 2-4 hours per week. The 40 hours of training these volunteers receive undoubtedly prepare them for their NRS service, but the communication, problem-solving skills and relationships they acquire along the way will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

3) The mission. I’m back to the mission again because without it, what’s the point of having such a great staff and volunteer team? In challenging days in the office or tense times in the crisis services center, it’s the flag we all rally behind and fight song we all know the words to. There’s a palpable, indelible bond between the staff, volunteers, board of directors and everyone who has ever supported or worked with NRS. It’s this mission and knowing we all signed up for it. It’s not about us, but the runaway, homeless and at-risk youth who depend on us. The stakes are that high.

Next Steps

Would you like to learn more about NRS, donate or get involved?

Great – here you are:

1. Chicago residents: Visit NRS to meet this staff and see this crisis services center for yourself.

2. Donate to NRS. Government funding meets just a portion of NRS’s modest administrative expenses – your donation (any size) makes a big difference!

3. Volunteer at NRS. We always need volunteers and your schedule can be very flexible!

Tom Lawler
NRS Board Member (Since 2013)


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