Many people find volunteering provides them with a sense of accomplishment and pride. It can be deeply satisfying to give back to others and to know you’re making a difference in people’s daily lives, on the environment, in a cultural setting, and more.
The National Runaway Safeline’s (NRS) volunteers selflessly share their time and talents to support youth in crisis. For Ashley, our July Volunteer of the Month, volunteering with NRS is personal.
Growing up, Ashley did not have a strong and supportive home life. When given an ultimatum at age 18, Ashley chose to leave home. At the time, she was not aware of NRS or other organizations that would have connected her to critical services, and today she wonders if her life might be different if she’d received support during that difficult period.
Ashley’s lived experience with homelessness influences how she approaches her role as a volunteer in the NRS Crisis Center. While everyone’s experiences are unique, Ashley has firsthand knowledge of what many youth who contact NRS may be enduring. She can relate to their struggles and appreciates being able to support young people and their families. When a crisis contact assures Ashley that they or their loved one is going to be safe and OK, she feels relieved and is grateful to have helped.
For Ashley, volunteering at NRS each week is among the most meaningful ways to spend her time. She is extremely passionate about helping youth who face physical, emotional, and other struggles, and enjoys being a part of the community of NRS volunteers.
When not volunteering, Ashley spends time with her husband of nearly six years, their two cats, and friends. She’s an experienced runner who developed a love for the sport at an early age and then ran Division III cross country in college. She’s completed the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, a half marathon, and other long distance races. Ashley says, “running makes me feel like the best version of myself and I know that if I can run a marathon, then I can tackle any obstacle that comes my way.”
Additionally, Ashley is an avid reader who enjoys classic Russian literature and names Crime and Punishment as her favorite novel. An accomplished video gamer, Ashley finds excitement in Zelda and other popular games on Nintendo like Super Mario.
As a senior research associate for a biotechnology startup in Chicago, Ashley is passionate about science and hopes to go to medical school. While her professional work helps people indirectly, Ashley sees volunteering with NRS and her goals of becoming a doctor as ways to improve people’s lives directly.
If you feel inspired by Ashley and would like to learn more about NRS’s volunteer opportunities, visit 1800RUNAWAY.org/volunteer.