Crisis Averted

‘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?

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6 Comments

Filed under Calgary, Canada, NABLOPOMO

6 responses to “Crisis Averted

  1. I’ve thought about volunteering for something like that – and wondered how many crises could have been adverted if there had been someone to take that call / listen, but I worry that the shouldering so many other peoples burdens – or helping them shoulder theirs would outweigh the positive feeling of making a difference – i think it would get to me , eventually. They do, do an awesome job, and I hate to think what would happen if there were not services like that.

  2. I admire you for wanting to do this, you’re a brave compassionate soldier!

    I don’t think it’s as much about the advice you give them, but the support you’re offering and the fact you will listen that will speak volumes. I hope that you will learn during the training of how not to get emotionally attached or too involved in any cases. Compassion, yes of course. But, I’m just worried our lil Nikki we all love will get overcome by some of their issues, anguishing over things, losing sleep over it, tearing herself up… me no want that 😦

  3. “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.”

    LOVE IT. I think some people’s lives just change, especially when they come from a hard background, when they feel that for the first time they have really been “heard” by someone. And you are doing that. And for that I have the utmost respect and admiration 🙂

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  5. Wow, this is intense. Actually, the whole concept of being trained to handle someone in a time of crisis reminds me of George Clooney’s job in Up In The Air — have you seen it?

  6. Julie

    ooh I’d like to volunteer in something like that!

    Anyways that’s so true about putting yourself out there and it feels so nice to meet new friends even though you won’t see them again or for a while. Sometimes I tell myself “maybe we’ll bump into each other again”. Yeah…I know you can facebook/myspace stalk them but we’re not in high school anymore and I’m not that courageous to ask them for their number to keep in touch either. But after reading this post…it made me rethink “why not ask them to hang out for coffee.”

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