Youth advocate EJ Velez selflessly shares his own personal experience with homelessness and the challenges he faced navigating systems in an effort to educate the public and ensure youth receive proper support and care they need to succeed. As a college senior, EJ balances school work with his activism. He serves on the National Runaway Safeline’s Youth Advisory Board, as a Youth Catalyst Team Consultant for Youth Collaboratory and is a Youth Consultant to National Network for Youth (NN4Y).
Gianna T. is the Volunteer of the Month for March 2022!
Gianna has been part of the NRS family since beginning training back in September of 2019! She was among the first volunteers to return when NRS went fully remote, and she’s been dedicated to her Thursday evening spot since. She has occasionally taken other shifts, but she’s been planted there since November 2020! Wow! Her incredible consistency and longevity as a volunteer makes her an obvious candidate for highlight and praise. We’re excited to honor her for (over) 256 hours of service to youth in crisis and 264 contact records in our database. If you’re doing the math, she’s pretty much helped a youth every hour she’s volunteered. That’s incredible! Congrats Gianna!
We sat down and asked her a few questions:
NRS: What made you decide to volunteer with NRS?
Gianna: I actually saw the NRS Crisis Center across the street from my eye doctor a few years ago and decided one day to come in and get more information (which I believe was from you Jamin around 4-5 years ago!). Then in 2019 I was looking into possible volunteer options for graduate school and came back for an interview (also with you!) and although my career plans have changed, I’ve stayed with NRS ever since.
NRS: What keeps you coming back to volunteer week after week?
Gianna: I’ve stayed volunteering at NRS for the past few years because I truly enjoy it. Not only that, but the NRS team is so incredibly friendly, open and supportive. NRS feels like one big family, we’re always here for one another.
NRS: Tell us something you’ve learned from your experiences volunteering with us?
Gianna: Volunteering for NRS has had a huge impact on my life. On a micro level I’ve become a better conversationalist, have become more patient and understanding, and have used the tools I’ve learned in training to help my friends and family with difficult situations and in my own personal life on many occasions. On a macro level volunteering has allowed me to interact with individuals from all around the country. My perspective on life and my worldview have been changed for the better.
NRS: Give us a Fun Fact about yourself that you don’t think someone would be able to guess just by meeting you.
Gianna: One thing some people wouldn’t expect from me is my fierce love of travel, even by myself! I’ve backpacked solo in Europe for a few months and even bungee-jumped solo in Canada. I’m also a big Blackhawks fan! I once traveled to the Czech Republic just to see the season opening game for the Blackhawks. I try to plan at least one big trip every year with my mom, who is my favorite travel partner and best friend.
NRS: What would you say to someone who was thinking of volunteering with NRS?
Gianna: I’d say you won’t regret volunteering with NRS! Those two hours a week of time is worth it when you can make such a huge impact supporting youth all around the country. No matter if you volunteer for 6 months or 6 years, each shift you have the opportunity of making a difference in someone’s life.
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As Advocates for Children in northwest Georgia celebrates the organization’s 40th anniversary, the team takes pride in their countless accomplishments, including client success stories, new and expanded programs and the purchase and renovation of their new headquarters where all prevention, education and advocacy programs are now under one roof.
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Avenues for Youth recognizes that while most youth experiencing homelessness have faced trauma, they are each unique. They have unique needs, experiences, abilities and aspirations. Each individual is on a personal journey through homelessness and, hopefully, on a path to a bright future.
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Our October volunteer of the month is Claudia V. Claudia is a dedicated paralegal based in New York City (NYC), where she resides and works. Her passion for continual learning shines through her proactive approach to attending court cases beyond her immediate involvement, seizing every opportunity to enhance her knowledge and skills. She will also tell you that she’s equally excited about being a true NYC-foodie, and thinks that food is one of the greatest things NYC has to offer. Though she has a tough time deciding, her favorite cuisines are Italian and Mediterranean.
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