Learn more about Airriell.

Let’s learn more about Airriell and why she chooses to serve youth in crisis at NRS.

Airriell Thomas | NRS Volunteer of the Month | May 2017


Tell us a fun fact about yourself. I play rugby with the Chicago Women’s Rugby Football Club. I love the sport for its physicality, sportsmanship, and comradery.

How did you first get involved with NRS? Although I first became involved with NRS as part of a school assignment, the NRS mission resonated with my values and interests and led me to consider a longer commitment than I originally planned. The atmosphere, NRS’ approach and mission let me know that I wanted to commit for longer.

Why do you choose to keep coming back to volunteer? At the forefront, it feels great to know that even for the short amount of time I’m in the crisis service center, I’m talking to and helping youth who need it most. Aside from the work itself, I thoroughly enjoy coming in for my shift. No matter when I drop in, I know odds are, I’m going to have an engaging and fun conversation with someone!

What have you gained from your experience? Volunteering with NRS has helped me to keep things in perspective. Sometimes callers present with a variety of concerns on one call. Helping youth focus the conversation on tangible items within their control reminds me in a healthy way about my own limitations. I am simply a link in the chain of people and experiences youth have. Of course, I want callers to receive needed resources and have happy outcomes. Ultimately, all I can do is offer my best, and hope that something I do is helpful and wish them luck.

NRS Volunteer of the Month | May 2017 | Airriell Thomas

Can you tell us about a call that stuck with you? There are fewer times I can remember ending a call and feeling a greater sense of satisfaction that I had actually done something to help a stranger. I do not remember the youth’s age exactly, but she was 16 or 17. She shared that she had a history of depression and suicidal attempts, but that her family was very supportive.

She called because this particular afternoon, she was home alone in charge of her younger siblings while her parents were on vacation and she felt very seriously that she wanted to take her own life. Yes, I had spoken to youth who were going through difficult circumstances, but this was the first time where the caller was actively in crisis and an immediate danger to herself.

Between something I said and the look of terror that must have been plastered across my face, Katelynn (an NRS crisis services staff supervisor) tapped into the call and helped me through it. At the end of the call, the youth said a prayer in which she thanked me. I am not religious, but there was a lot of emotion on both ends of the call that made me appreciative that she felt that talking with me was something she was thankful for.

Airriell Thomas | National Runaway Safeline Volunteer of the Month | May 2017

Any last thoughts? I’ve really appreciated working with NRS, the call center supervisors and my fellow liners.

If you are interested in volunteering at NRS, email our volunteer coordinator Rebecca Bowlin at RBowlin@1800RUNAWAY.org.


Sign Up for Our Newsletter