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Meet Katherin & Debra, our Call2Talk Live United Shining Star Award Winners!

 
MEET DEBRA!
 
Name: Debra Gratto
 
Town of residence: Framingham
 
Which UWTC program(s) have you volunteered for? Call2Talk 
 
How long have you been volunteering for Call2Talk? Two and a half years
 
Do you volunteer regularly or occasionally? Regularly
 
Why did you decide to volunteer? My career was winding down, and I wanted to do something meaningful in semi-retirement. 
 
How did you decide to volunteer with Call2Talk?  Over the years I thought about volunteering at a suicide prevention line but was somewhat intimidated by the idea.  After attending an information session at Call2Talk/United Way of Tri-County, I was excited by the opportunity.  Eileen Davis explained that Call2Talk is an emotional support line in addition to a suicide lifeline. Helping people early on, before they grow desperate, is an important part of the Call2Talk philosophy; it’s a philosophy I love.  We were also assured that we would receive robust training before manning the phones.
 
What do you do when you volunteer?  My primary responsibilities at Call2Talk are as a call taker and supervisor, but I’ve also had the opportunity to handle COVID-19 calls, to participate in a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline study with Columbia University, and to assist in training new volunteers.
 
How does volunteering make you feel?  Volunteering is an amazing experience. It’s fulfilling being able to contribute to others in a meaningful way — just by listening.  Also, it’s a privilege to get a glimpse into the lives of our callers and the challenges they face. It makes me deeply grateful for all that I have.
 
Why do you think it's important for people to volunteer? One of my greatest learnings from Call2Talk is that we all crave connection and community. Without it we become lonely, depressed, anxious and life loses its meaning. Volunteering is a wonderful way to stay connected while giving back. In addition to connecting with those you serve; an added bonus is the friendships you develop with other volunteers.
 
If you are retired, what did you do before? I’m currently semi-retired from my career in Human Resources. During my career I held various senior management positions in healthcare, higher education, and at a law firm.  I’m also a mom.  My beautiful and brilliant daughter, Casey, lives in Seattle with her husband. My partner, Mark, is the love of my life.
 
Tell us a story of a time when you knew your volunteering made a difference: There are many times I’ve felt that volunteering made a difference, but a story from last week illustrates the point. A caller with thoughts of suicide ended our call by saying, “if my family and friends would just listen to me the way you do, I wouldn’t have to call this line. I’m glad you’re there.”
 
What's your best advice for someone interested in volunteering? Don’t delay!  You’ll get so much more out of volunteering than you can possibly imagine.
 
Do you have any other comments you would like to add?  Volunteering at Call2Talk has become a very important part of my life. An extra bonus has been working with the VP, Eileen Davis, and Maggie McNeill, Volunteer Coordinator. Eileen is a fabulous leader and mentor, and Maggie is a great support to all of us. I’m also thrilled that we get invited to the many free suicide prevention seminars and conferences. They have been very helpful.
 
 
MEET KATHERIN!
 
Name: Katherin Bonilla
 
Town of residence: Framingham
 
Which UWTC program(s) have you volunteered for?  Call2Talk 
 
How long have you been volunteering for Call2Talk? 1 year 
 
Do you volunteer regularly or occasionally?  Regularly
 
Why did you decide to volunteer? I became aware of Call2Talk at the 2017 United Way 5K. I liked their mission and wanted to give back to the community.
 
How did you decide to volunteer with us?  I saw an announcement for a Call2Talk informational session. I attended the session and loved the work they do and decided to volunteer/help others.
 
What do you do when you volunteer?  I help and support callers who are going through a difficult time who call our hotline.
 
How does volunteering make you feel?  It feels great to be able to help others.
 
Why do you think it's important for people to volunteer?  I believe it is important to give back to the community and help those in need.
 
If you work, can you tell us where and what you do? I am a school psychologist and work in a middle school where I provide a range of services to students in regular and special education.
 
Tell us a story of a time when you knew your volunteering made a difference: In general, I feel I make a difference when I answer calls from first timers (callers who are calling us for the first time). Many times, they are nervous, scared and do not know what to say or what to expect but leave having a good experience and are thankful for our work.
 
What's your best advice for someone interested in volunteering?  Make sure to find a cause you are passionate about.
 
Do you have any other comments you would like to add?  I enjoy volunteering at Call2Talk, have met some wonderful people through volunteering and have received amazing support from the staff at Call2Talk.