‘Close scrutiny will show that most “crisis situations” are opportunities to either advance, or stay where you are’ ~ Maxwell Maltz.
Today I went to an information meeting about being a crisis line volunteer at the Distress Centre. The place is very discreet, tucked away in the third floor of an office looking building, if you didn’t search for it you would have no idea it is even there. Despite being hidden away, the support being given to the Calgary community there is nothing short of obvious and remarkable. They never close their doors or lines.
The Distress Centre is somewhere for anyone to turn in a crisis and as a volunteer you listen, handle situations, explore options/feelings/concerns and work towards problem resolution. Given the responsibilities the training sounds pretty extensive. And with (potentially) someone’s life in your hands at the other end of a phone line I can understand.
Something else that struck me was that the social workers who gave the presentation were most definitely in love with their jobs. Making a difference really seemed to make them glow. They weren’t swimming in money but you could tell their line of work gave them reason to get up in the morning. I guess working from their hearts and brimming with compassion does that.
During the meeting I sat next to a girl, Amy, we shook hands and did introduction formalities and started chatting – she studies Biology, lived in Indonesia when she was younger, wants to go into genetic counseling and seemed like a bright button. I was even more delighted when she sat next to me on the tram to the mall (as I needed to grab something for one of my penpals), both being more ourselves than when we were in the meeting room. I liked being in this new city with a new friend, even a fleeting one.
Today was another reminder that putting yourself out there is the right thing to do in a foreign place, overseas or not. Throwing yourself into any surrounding opportunities. With volunteer work can come skills, friendships, life experience and that ‘I contributed‘ feeling.
Although the next volunteer intake wasn’t till September I was pretty excited to flex some empathy. The only problem I could see was fitting the 36 hours training (over 3 weeks) around any existing job and getting over the initial fear of a high risk person calling.. The thing Amy and I confided in each other was how scary it sounded and what a humongous responsibility lay on your shoulders when you put the headset on. Trying to guide someone in the right direction in the best way you know how. Does anyone ever feel ready for that?