In recent years, the National Runaway Safeline (NRS) has expanded our technical capabilities, enabling us to recruit Crisis Center volunteers nationwide. As a national organization, involving people in our daily work who live throughout the U.S., and even beyond, has been exciting. And as we’ve grown our volunteer network, we’ve been lucky to gain volunteers like 17-year-old Amanda Sun in East Brunswick, New Jersey.
As one of NRS’s youngest volunteers who also has lived experience, Amanda demonstrates incredible maturity and patience. She learned about NRS and our volunteer opportunities in early 2021 and signed up for the training immediately.
Amanda can recall when her family faced uncertainty and a caring neighbor was there to help. Amanda explained, “She was like my NRS at the time. She would talk to me and make me feel like everything was normal. I would have loved having resources like NRS back then and I feel like I really want to be that voice of support for others.”
When asked what she finds most surprising about the volunteer experience with NRS, Amanda shared, “It’s surprising how welcoming and warm the NRS family is.” She reflected on one of her first supervised calls with “Mister Nolan” Manning, remembering, “He made it seem so cool, like, wow, I really want to do this!”
Amanda finds the volunteer group chats to be the greatest resource, explaining the messages are always uplifting and supportive and they provide the quickest way to get the answers to difficult questions.
As a high school senior, Amanda is considering a career path that would allow her to continue having an impact on young people facing homelessness. In addition to volunteering with NRS, Amanda is the President of the East Brunswick Chapter of the Lions Club International. The chapter organizes volunteer opportunities, such as beach and park clean-ups and children’s book drives. She’s also a member of her high school’s cross country team, has played violin for seven years and speaks French! She is quite versatile!
In the future, Amanda wants to travel the world. She’s already checked China off the list and hopes to take in the sites of Europe’s most famous cities. Paris tops the list. She has plans to see more of the U.S. too, and loves national parks, which have been her favorite family trips domestically.
She considered one of her biggest takeaways as an NRS volunteer: “It’s so important to listen and try to take the time to understand everyone’s perspective. Everyone grows up with a different background, so it may be difficult to understand other people’s viewpoints. Through the NRS training I realized the importance of being anti-biased, supportive and validating.”
She also said, “I wish I could snap my fingers and every parent in the world would immediately be supportive of their kids. I think many issues I’ve seen stem from a lack of support, understanding and communication. If parents could embody those characteristics, the world would be a better place.”
We agree! And hopefully, one day Amanda’s wish will come true.