Meet the National Runaway Safeline’s (NRS) December volunteer of the month, Sophie Putrim, and learn why she chooses to serve youth in crisis at NRS.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself. I have a twin sister, and although we’re pretty close, we used to love to prank each other when we were younger. One time, she sent an embarrassing picture of me to our friends, so I spent the whole day setting up different pranks to play on her (and on our younger brother, because, “Why not?”). When she tasted the excessive amount of salt I put in her toothpaste, she cried. I also put Saran Wrap under the toilet seat before my brother went to use the bathroom, but my hysterical laughter gave it away and I got in huge trouble with my dad for both instances.
How did you first get involved with NRS? One of my good friends referred me here! She said she knew a girl who was a liner here and absolutely loved it. She described talking to runaway kids from all across the country. It sounded so different than any other opportunity I’d heard of and I thought it couldn’t hurt to try a few of the training classes. I am so glad I did because I absolutely love it, too!!
Why do you choose to keep coming back to work as a youth volunteer?
So, so many things. The smiles and entertaining conversations that always fill the crisis services center, those difficult calls that make me think about how I can improve for next time, and the endless situations that I have yet to encounter. I love feeling like I am helping someone by doing something as simple as talking on the phone.
What have you gained from your experience? Honestly, the first thing I’ve learned here is phone etiquette! I feel much more confident talking on the phone now, both in and out of the call center. I have also become more perceptive, patient, a better listener, and more aware of and sensitive to the situations of others.
Can you tell us about a call that stuck with you? My very first Home Free call was a young boy who had run away from home because he didn’t agree with his parents’ rules and wanted to live life his own way. He took all the money he had and ended up across the country in a state far from home, and was able to last there for a few months until he found himself homeless and stranded. He was no more than a few years older than I am (I’m 17), and needed help getting back home to his family, whom he had not spoken to the entire time he was gone. I will never forget reaching out to his father and hearing his surprise that I had his son safe on the other line. During the conference call, I got to hear the first words they’d spoken to each other, and the conversation was very civil and you could tell they respected each other a lot. It made me realize how impactful our work can be on families and meaningful it is!
Any last thoughts? You all are so talented, smart, and kind and I am so thankful for the chance to have worked with lots of you. I learn from you each day I spend in the call center!!