Meet the National Runaway Safeline’s (NRS) September 2018, volunteer of the month: Brett Kring! Learn why he chooses to serve youth in crisis at NRS.
For anyone that knows me, they will tell you I am pretty obsessed with traveling in my free time. It’s definitely my biggest passion and I love to see new places! I’m fortunate to have traveled to 45 countries so far, and all the continents, crossing Antarctica off last year, which was definitely the most amazing travel experience I’ve had. It’s one of the last untouched and protected places on earth, and I’ve always loved penguins. Outside of that, wherever I go, I just love to see new things, meet locals, experience other cultures and try new foods.
How did you first become involved with NRS?
Outside of my corporate job, and even though I’ve always done volunteer work, I was looking for a way to give back more to the community and help others, and since I’ve been told I’m a great listener, thought this would be a perfect fit. Also, kids don’t choose to be born or to have the life that they live, so they need advocates and people to help out. I really think that those of us in society who have the means or time have an obligation to help others. If everyone could just give a little of their time, we really could make the world a better place. Ok…. I’m off my soapbox now!
What keeps you coming back?
I keep coming back because I really think we make a difference. NRS is such an amazing resource for youth in crisis, and I’ve seen it time and time again in the calls and messages I receive, and in talking with the other volunteers. At the end of my shifts, I feel really good about the help I’ve given youth, parents, etc, and it just makes me feel great. The other volunteers are amazing also and the supervisors could not be more supportive!
What have you learned from your experiences here?
I’ve learned that what qualifies as a ‘crisis’ is really in the eyes of the youth, and it’s not my place to judge that. And besides, we are nonjudgmental after all! Sometimes youth just need to talk and they want someone to listen. In the beginning, I thought I’d only feel like I was helping if I provided a real solution and needed to really ‘fix’ something, but in many instances just listening and providing support to the youth made all the difference in the world.
Give us a story from your experience that stuck with you:
I was chatting with this young man who was really going through a lot at home. There was abuse in the house and in fact, there was just recently an incident with his dad. When I was chatting with him and talking about the details, there was a point that he said he was actually trembling, and more than anything I wanted to get him some immediate help and to get him to a safe environment. It took some time, and in the end, he didn’t want to immediately get the police or CPS involved given how he knew it might turn out. Instead, we put together a plan for the next day, since he had an amazingly supportive friend with parents, where he would go to report everything. At the end of the chat, the youth was just so relieved and felt so much better that we had put a plan together.
I’ll be honest, my day job can be very stressful, and there have been a couple times when the last thing I felt like doing at the end of the day was coming to the crisis center. But once I got there, my mood completely changed with the amazing people in the crisis center, and once I started taking the calls and talking with the youth, and helping them, it made me feel like I was really helping. If you ever feel like you can’t do it when you’re starting a shift, think again! We are an essential resource!