Meet NRS’ volunteer of the month for July 2017, Courtney Calero, and learn why she chooses to serve youth in crisis at NRS.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself. I know every single word to the Hamilton soundtrack. Every. Single. Word.
How did you first get involved with NRS? I previously managed volunteer programs for several homeless shelters in Seattle, enjoying most the time I was able to spend working with homeless and runaway youth. So, when I moved to Chicago and learned about NRS, I absolutely had to apply! Then, after being a liner for a little over a year, I learned about NRS’ associate board and joined that too!
Why do you choose to keep coming back to volunteer?
It is definitely a combination of the work itself and the people I am lucky enough to do the work alongside. Even on the toughest calls, it is rewarding to know that you gave someone who really needed a listening ear the space to get out what they needed to get out and maybe had nobody else they could do that with. And honestly, I feel like I learn something new from the supervisors and other liners every single shift. Thank you for letting me do this every week!
What have you gained from your experience? Oh gosh– I have learned so many things from my time thus far at NRS! I found that the training liners get on how to listen with a non-judgmental ear and how to respond with a nondirective tone can also make a huge difference in personal relationships too. This world needs more listening and more empathy all around, and my time as a liner has really helped to continue shaping those qualities in me.
Can you tell us about a call that stuck with you? There are a lot of specific calls that I think will stick with me forever. But, one that stands out came awhile back from a 16-year-old boy in a really small, rural town.
For most of the call, he danced around different minor issues he was experiencing but kept hinting that there was something bigger he didn’t know how to say. I gently asked follow-up questions and talked to him about the small stuff, until finally, he took a really deep breath and said that mostly what he was really calling about was that he wasn’t like other people he knew- he was gay. That was the first time he’d said it out loud. Then he laughed and said how scary but great it felt to have finally just admitted it.
I felt extremely honored to be a part of that moment and to have been able to create a safe enough space for him to say it in. And I was relieved to know that no matter what other reactions he might get down the road as he felt more comfortable coming out to friends and family, the first response he got was a positive, affirmative, and supportive one. It was a super rewarding moment as a liner, and just as a human.
Any last thoughts? To other NRS volunteers, I just want to say you all are awesome! It is a huge honor to be a part of this team.