Town of residence: Framingham
Which UWTC program(s) have you volunteered for? Call2Talk
How Long Have You Been Volunteering here? Since June 2020
Do you volunteer regularly or occasionally? I do my best to come in twice a week!
Why did you decide to volunteer?
I just graduated from college and am living at home in Framingham for the first time since high school. As I search for a full time job and prepare for grad school, I wanted to find a way to apply my extroverted nature and passion for engaging in open and honest conversations, alongside my dedication to mental health awareness and support. Moreover, I've always been that person in my friend group whom others come to for advice or just a patient, open pair of ears--so I couldn't think of a better way to volunteer!
How did you decide to volunteer with us?
My mom was texting with her friend, Deborah, who volunteers at Call2Talk. I asked my mom what her friend does, and thought, "WOW! I could see myself doing that." My mom immediately texted back to see if Deborah knew if any trainings had been scheduled for the summer. When she told us that a volunteer information session was taking place that very evening, I knew it was meant to be!
What do you do when you volunteer?
I usually volunteer for five-hour shifts in the mornings or evenings, sometimes until 2am! When I volunteer I answer calls that come in from the Call2Talk direct number and Mass211, as well as from the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. I strive to provide as much empathy and validation as I can to the caller, doing my best to make sure they feel heard and understood. Sometimes it's slow and I'll speak with only 6-8 callers in a shift, other times it's really busy and I'll talk with over 20! One of my favorite parts of volunteering at Call2Talk is the range of callers I interact with. There are many frequently supported callers, who, even just after two months of volunteering, already know me by name! They fill me in on what's been going on in their lives and for many of these callers we are the only people they talk with. Additionally, there are some first time callers who may be very anxious to speak with someone. These are my favorite calls, and they tend to be on the longer side. While these calls may be difficult, speaking with first time callers is always special for me. It's the first time they are opening up to someone about their emotions and personal challenges.
How does volunteering make you feel?
There is no better feeling than getting off a tough call and hearing the caller sound so much more calm and at ease than when the call began. I feel really good knowing that I've just made one small difference in someone's life. After all, we're all human, and we all can benefit from a good venting "sesh" sometimes!
Volunteering at Call2Talk and speaking with so many callers has given me so much confidence in speaking on the phone. As someone with a mild stutter, I've been hesitant to do things which involve speaking on the phone with people I don't know, for fear of them not understanding or even judging the way I speak. All these fears melted away after callers told me how kind my voice sounds, or that they can just hear from the sound of my voice how much I truly care. I used to be really self-conscious about the way I speak, but Call2Talk has helped me gain a new appreciation for my voice in a way I never imagined possible.
Why do you think it's important for people to volunteer?
Volunteering is such a selfless way to do good for your community while learning more about yourself and human nature. It's a win-win; you do good for others while feeling good about yourself for what you do.
If you work, can you tell us where and what you do?
I'm currently applying for positions to be a clinical research coordinator in the Boston area. In the next few years I want to start grad school for psychology and be a therapist specializing in behavioral and emotional support for children and young adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
Tell us a story of a time when you knew your volunteering made a difference.:
There are so many to choose from! One memorable call I had was late at night a few weeks ago. The caller was a young man whose wife left him earlier that day with their kids. I assessed his risk for suicide as moderate to high as he had both the means and intent, and I helped him reach a calmer emotional state. I got him to consent to an ambulance as I was worried he would be a risk to his own safety by himself. I stayed on the phone with him until he got to the hospital. Much of the call was silent, but knowing that I was there for him in one of his darkest moments, I knew I was making a difference.
What's your best advice for someone interested in volunteering?
Do it! Just do it! This is the kind of volunteer work where if you have even the slightest thought of doing something, you should. It's like a gut feeling. And it's ok to have doubts! When you're on the phone, it's so hard to describe the process of what to say, but the words just come out. Volunteering is such an in-the-moment type of role, you'll have no regrets! The United Way and Call2Talk community is made up of such great, kind, compassionate individuals. Everyone is so supportive of each other. Come in with an open mindset, and you'll be forever grateful!
Do you have any other comments you would like to add?
Volunteer! Call2Talk is the best!
If you or someone you know is suffering from thoughts of suicide Call2Talk is there to help: call 508-532-2255 or text c2t to 741741