This month we honor Ben as Volunteer of the Month! We are so happy to have someone as committed and kind as Ben to help youth and families in crisis.
Fun Fact (something people may not know already about you):
I am a huge rubik’s cube nerd. My fastest solve of a standard cube is 32 seconds and I have a whole display case full of different twisty puzzles.
How did you first become involved with NRS?
I went to the Chicago Volunteer Expo at the Nature Museum and the National Runaway Safeline really resonated with me. I have a niece who was a frequent runaway during her teenage years and I remember how helpless it felt. NRS gives me the chance to make sure young people have someone they can trust when they are making these big, scary decisions. (My niece is now 21 years old and is safe and well!)
What keeps you coming back?
At NRS, I can help a few people in a tangible way every week, and it restores my soul a little bit. Also, the other folks at NRS are a lot of fun so I always have a good time.
What have you learned from your experiences here?
Because we work with anonymous calls and chats, when the connection is lost, I may not get that person back. It has really helped me to rewire my brain to try to be present and help in the ways I can at each moment. If I do that, then I can let it go when I get a challenging call or chat. I don’t have to fix everything, I’m just here to help.
Give us a story from your experience that stuck with you:
The Home Free program has enabled me to help a number of young people return home. I helped a son get home to his mother even though she cursed me out because she thought I was trying to scam her. I helped a pregnant girl get home to her mom and sister in a small town in Iowa where my friend happens to live. I helped a young father cross the entire country after being stranded by labor traffickers.
Open Mic Moment (this is your chance to say to all volunteers whatever you would like):
I haven’t met a single liner or supervisor that I couldn’t learn from. You all inspire me with your kindness, empathy, and quick thinking. Keep doing what you’re doing!
If you are in the Chicago area and interested in becoming a crisis services volunteer at NRS, please e-mail Jamin Draves, Volunteer Coordinator, at JDraves@1800RUNAWAY.org with any questions.