Youth Volunteer Shares Her Experience at NRS
We are lucky to have such wonderful volunteers at NRS, who come from a variety of backgrounds. We even have youth volunteers as young as 16 who help us deliver our services to homeless, runaway and at-risk youth. One youth volunteer, Elizabeth, wrote a personal account of her time at our agency as one last helpful act before she begins college in the fall.
“NRS has been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, and I wanted to say thank you for all the support and opportunities I’ve been given as a volunteer. I hope you have a wonderful summer, and I will miss NRS very much!”
Here is her essay:
I have been a youth volunteer at the National Runaway Safeline since I was 16, and it has
undoubtedly been the highlight of my high school years. Coming in, I knew it would be a
life-changing experience, but I was blown away by how deeply it has changed and influenced
The National Runaway Safeline focuses on runaway issues, but the breadth and
diversity of the calls we receive are enormous. Poverty, foster care, child abuse, drugs, family
dynamics — it is an infinite list, and with that comes infinite opportunities to learn and to
help others. While communicating over the phone has its’ limitations, since it is not an in-person interaction, I realized that it also maximizes productivity; people are
able to reach us from any location in the U.S. This also allows us to cater to a wider variety of
needs and utilize technology efficiently.
“I hope to devote my life to making social change on a large scale…”
Volunteering is about serving others, of course, but it has also made me a better and
more capable person. Problem-solving, thinking on your feet, building rapport with strangers —
these skills are not limited to the call center; they are crucial in all aspects of life. It has also
changed my perception of our legal system and the way our government handles issues
It is easy to learn about social issues through books, classes, and other academic
material. However, information itself does not provide the capacity for the empathy and
understanding that comes with volunteering and interacting with others in all different life
situations. In order to improve social and political issues, it’s important to be in touch with the
community and its individuals who are struggling. There are too many people who suffer and
cannot receive the help and resources that they need. They deserve better.
“Child Protective Services dropped my case.”
“My foster parents are neglecting me.”
“I talked to the police but they wouldn’t believe me.”
While we do our absolute best to help our callers, there are too many systemic flaws with
dire consequences, which is very frustrating and unfortunate for those who are affected by
them. We can’t tell the police or Child Protective Services what to do. We can advocate for
youth, give them emotional support, and offer them resources, but it doesn’t always feel like
enough. There are urgent changes that need to be executed on the government level.
I plan to pursue public policy in college, focusing on issues that I have learned about at
NRS, such as child welfare. I hope to devote my life to making social change on a large scale.
NRS was my inspiration for my future career path, and it has been the greatest privilege to be a part of this organization.
Thank you for your service, Elizabeth. You are an extraordinary person, and we look forward to hearing more from you and your future pursuits.