Why I Volunteer
“I started volunteering at the Crisis Centre 10 years ago because I was tired of simply observing suffering in my community. I wanted to take action. At first, I saw myself as a helper, someone who was very different from the people who needed help. Over time, after talking to so many different people from all walks of life, I see that there is very little that separates me from them. With a bit of bad luck or a few bad choices, I could easily be in crisis myself. I continue volunteering because it fills me with hope. I see a room full of new volunteers starting their training every two months. I see hundreds of people continue to give their time and money year after year. There are so many compassionate people who care and want to be there for people who are suffering, and that is what keeps me motivated to continue giving.
“Like most unfulfilled university students I yearned for a purpose. I wanted to give back to the community while gaining beneficial life skills. I craved lessons that couldn’t be taught from a book – ah yes, life experience. The Crisis Centre is truly my refuge: a momentary escape from life where I can submerge myself into the problems of others. The lines give me an opportunity to connect with people from all walks of life. I speak with people from different cultures, socio-economic situations, political ideologies, sexual preferences, mental health backgrounds. A metaphorical buffet of humanity: a little bit of everything.
As a volunteer I have definitely gotten my fill. I have gained a unique worldview and life perspective. The Crisis Centre has enabled me to view the world from the lenses of another – many others.
I’ve learned that no matter how troubled our past, how despairing our present we all have one thing in common – our humanity. We are all struggling to survive and find our place in the world. I have learned how to be a support for others without getting bogged down by the pain of others. Tools such as boundaries, empathy and debriefing have allowed me to give back while still keeping enough of myself.
No matter how difficult your situation there are always others going through much worse. It’s not a contest…It’s just life. I am grateful for the opportunity to share whatever I can – even if that means lending an ear… because I have two.”
“After learning about this great program for the crisis centre in Vancouver, I started making the trek from Langley to become part of this wonderful team. Learning about the skills that are needed to support the callers that we get at the crisis centre was difficult at first, but once you put the skills to use it all started coming together. The Vancouver Crisis Centre has helped me to grow as a person and has helped me in everyday life with learning a range of life skills. I’ve never felt such fulfillment and enjoyment from an experience such as this. Everyone is always so happy and it’s because they’re there on their own accord and genuinely want to be there to better themselves and reach out to their community, that makes it the best environment to be in. Getting off the phone with a caller who was at first very anxious, lonely or upset and ending the call with the caller feeling empowered or calmer gives such a feeling of wanting to continue and better myself with learning more skills. I will never forget my time at the crisis centre and I value every minute I spent there and the life skills and knowledge that I attained from this position.”
“I’ve been a volunteer at the Crisis Centre since 2005. I began volunteering here because I was impressed by the thorough training program, and because I believed that this would be the perfect opportunity for me to take an active part in ensuring that the members of our community have a place to turn to in times of personal crises. My time at the Crisis Centre really opened my eyes to the suffering that many people go through in private, without having any supports to turn to. The calls I’ve taken taught me the difference that being heard can have on a person’s well-being. The skills that I’ve learned here are absolutely invaluable not only in my private life, but in my line of work as well. The staff at the Crisis Centre are most supportive, and always make the volunteers feel welcome to come to them to debrief calls, or just to chat. I feel extremely fortunate to be a part of the Crisis Centre Distress Services team – this has been one amazing experience.”
“It never fails to amaze me how someone feeling helpless in a seemingly hopeless predicament will feel better simply from having been heard, from having told their story or having had their say. To someone who cared to genuinely listen, when no one else would. And this, even if nothing has changed in their situation at the end of the call. Through the crisis centre, anyone can help — because you don’t need a PhD just to listen.”
“I have been a volunteer at the crisis centre for only four months now, and already my experiences here have been nothing short of inspiring and life-changing. I have met so many like-minded and wonderful people through the crisis centre and have formed friendships that will last well beyond my days as a volunteer there. We grew so much together as a group through the training process, and this personal development continues as we continue our journey as volunteers at the crisis centre.
I have been humbled and inspired by the people I have had the honour of speaking with over the phone. It is difficult to describe the feeling you get when you hang up the phone knowing you truly helped to make someone’s day or night a bit easier; that you gave them a sense of hope for the future. As volunteers, we are given the opportunity to truly make a difference like this every single shift. As a counsellor who had taken a break from the field for awhile, my work at the crisis centre has reminded me exactly why I entered this profession in the first place.”
“When I started University, I knew it was important to balance my life with other activities. To take a step towards helping other, I decided to volunteer at the Crisis Center. And, as anyone who volunteers will tell you, you have no idea just how much these altruistic acts give in return. Not only have a gained skills the I employ in my everyday life (heck, even just talking to my parents!), but I also feel a sense of reward that I think only volunteers can describe. As difficult it can be to manage what we deal with, I walk out of the center warm and satisfied. I have learned that there is no better gift than time and attention – a gift everyone enjoys, no matter what walk of life they may be in. I have learned that we are all the same. We each get lonely once in a while and we each find comfort in the voice of another. The experience has humbled me and urged me to pursue further volunteer work – I will soon be applying to volunteer with Victims Services!”
“I tried, unsuccessfully, to donate blood on two occasions last spring. The first time my iron count was too low, and the second time my veins weren’t pronounced enough to get a needle into (which left me somewhat curious as to what might occur if I were to all of a sudden need an IV). I still haven’t given up, though. The nurses told me to come back again in warmer weather. My motivations behind my relentless attempts to give blood are not unlike my motivations behind volunteering at the Crisis Centre. Like blood, time is a resource of which we can often spare a little. So, if I can use a resource to possibly save someone’s life, why wouldn’t I? The practical skills and training I have received from the Crisis Centre have allowed me to generate and distribute a valuable resource that can make a colossal impact on someone’s life. Time and the ability to learn are in everyone ‘to give,’ and the immediate result is usually significantly more rewarding than a cookie.”
“I originally wanted to volunteer (like so many reference-seeking post-secondary students) to help my chances of getting further in school. I thought, “I’m already volunteering with two other organizations, so what’s one more?” My lovely girlfriend (now wife) was looking for volunteer opportunities, so I figured I would accompany her through the process. That was late 1999.
So things changed, as they always do. The skills I developed at the Crisis Centre began to affect my relationships and day-to-day experiences. I enjoyed the perspective I gained working with people in difficult situations.
Over the years, it’s been very uplifting to hear people find hope in even the direst situations. And in many ways, we have acted as conduits for hope and positive change in people’s lives. I believe that the volunteers are able to support our callers as they grow.
The skills I have gained have changed every aspect of my life, and have influenced every relationship and opportunity I have had since I began volunteering. It has allowed me to be flexible and open-minded in any situation. My Crisis Centre skills have deepened my relationships with family and friends and have given me the experience of connecting with people on another level. I have also had the chance to get to know myself better and reflect on my life as I work with others.
While I had my own dealings with suicidal behaviour as an adolescent, it was humbling to hear friends and family opening up to me about their experiences with suicide when they found out that I was volunteering at the Crisis Centre. This reinforced my commitment and has kept me coming back for over 8 years.”