The National Runaway Safeline is thrilled to announce Jackie Barron as the January 2024 volunteer of the month. Jackie’s path to volunteering with NRS was paved with empathy and a desire to make a positive impact. Growing up in a challenging family environment, Jackie often found herself in the “fixer” role (having a keen sense of responsibility, often prioritizing the needs of other before her own), even at a young age. This understanding of adversity and resilience led her to seek out opportunities to give back, ultimately leading her to NRS.
Nissa P. is the Volunteer of the Month for April 2022!
Nissa has been part of our NRS family since she joined training back in May of 2019! At the beginning of April, she’s clocked about 247 total service hours with NRS since she became a full-fledged volunteer. Nissa has stacked up about 230 crisis reports. She’s been an incredible member of our NRS volunteer team. Please join us in honoring her for Volunteer of the Month in April of 2022!
We sat down and asked her a few questions:
What made you decide to volunteer with NRS?
Nissa: I had gone to the Chicago Volunteer Expo at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. I remember going there and being really interested in NRS. What drew me to you was the amount of work that we do to train and prepare. It’s a lot, but it struck me as something really different from other orgs. You’re really investing in people and you’re not just throwing them out there.
Also, I just so happen to also work in Non-profit, but in an admin capacity. I really just wanted to be involved on the front lines and see what that was like.
What keeps you coming back to volunteer week after week?
Nissa: I really enjoy it! I think it, for me, is a great way to get out of my own head as well. Volunteering with NRS puts some perspective on things. It shows me that there are other things going on other than my own personal life. During the pandemic especially, and even still, to be like, “I’m going to do this. I’m going to hear what’s going on in other people’s lives and try to be there for them.”
All the supervisors are really nice and helpful too. The other volunteers too. Everyone just wants everyone to do the best that they can. The back and forth for that is just really great. I really enjoy how the conversation in the group chat can be just about anything in particular, like last week we were talking about the range of all the ridiculous streaming services. I came into it late like how did we even get here? It’s just nice to have people able to keep things so light when we deal with stuff that’s so hard.
Tell us something you’ve learned from your experiences volunteering with us?
Nissa: I would say I definitely learned patience. And I’ve learned perspective.
You know, when you’re talking to someone sometimes it takes a long time for them to respond. You have to keep talking to someone to really get their perspective, to get how they’re seeing the situation. It’s not giving your opinion, it’s taking the time to listen to someone and get their perspective about what’s going on and help them sort through that. Help someone without bias. I’ve learned the importance of listening to others and not instantly reacting to it.
It’s made me think of things differently in my everyday life. Instead of telling someone what they should do. People know what they want to do, or rather, they might not know but sometimes they need to get there themselves. You just have to ask the questions to get them there.
Give us a Fun Fact about yourself that you don’t think someone would be able to guess just by meeting you.
Nissa: I was actually chased by monkeys in Panama! A pack of Capuchin monkeys! I was on a study aboard research trip to Barro Colorado Island in Panama, studying howler monkeys. Instead, we came into capuchin monkey territory and they chased us out into the jungle. We got out of their territory so they stopped chasing, but it was terrifying. They’re very smart and they’re very mean!
What would you say to someone who was thinking of volunteering with NRS?
Nissa: It’s definitely worth it. I don’t think you can find anything else like it.
Once you finish the training you feel so accomplished. I was like “I did it!”, I really felt like I did something amazing. Every week you’re talking to different people about different things going on in their lives. There’s not many orgs where you’re going to have this kind of experience and you’re not going to find something this fulfilling
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As we step into a new year, January holds more than the promise of resolutions. It’s a clarion call to confront a pervasive crisis: Human Trafficking Awareness Month. This presidentially designated annual awareness campaign, led by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), unites youth-facing service providers and communities through education about human trafficking and the roles we all play in protecting vulnerable youth. The 2024 theme, “Activate Connections to Prevent Human Trafficking,” is a stark reminder: This fight isn’t for the solitary hero. It’s a collective struggle, demanding connections that safeguard and uplift those at risk or already ensnared in human trafficking’s grip.
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It’s not often that a nonprofit organization is lucky enough to have long-term volunteers. Fortunately, the National Runaway Safeline (NRS) has been working with John P., our December 2023 Volunteer of the Month, for more than 12 years! John finds that volunteering provides a “meaningful connection with the human experience.” He recognizes something special in helping those in need and wonders why more people aren’t drawn to the fulfilling world of volunteering.
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Sam began on her journey with the National Runaway Safeline (NRS) at 16, much younger than the average age of volunteers. She learned about NRS’s volunteer program through her high school’s list of after-school activities. This led her to sign-up for what she called an eye-opening 40-hour training that was so impactful that she still uses the training material to help guide her through difficult chats. Now, as a college student at Washington University in St. Louis, Sam continues to volunteer by talking to young people and concerned adults who reach out through NRS’s chat service.