Whether they have a personal connection to suicide, a passionate desire to change the world, or another motivation, Samaritans volunteers make an impact on individual lives each day. Recently, at our Teen Volunteer Parent Night, three of our teen volunteers spoke about the impact that their experience at Samaritans has had on their lives outside of the Crisis Center walls.
For the last few years, the presenting volunteers showed up each week to answer calls, texts, and chats from those in crisis. After a particularly tough call early in her time with Samaritans, one teen notes, “I realized that even as a high school student, I could save a life. This insight – that I can make a difference in the world – empowers and motivates me.” She continues, “The reason I return week after week is for the callers. There is no better feeling than hearing my caller tell me that speaking with me has helped relieved some of their sadness or made them feel a little brighter. I walk away feeling good that my actions may have helped ease someone’s pain.” Another volunteer remarks, “I always end my shift grateful for all the conversations I’ve had.”
Though our volunteers focus on helping those that use our services, the presenters are aware of how their training has influenced their personal relationships. One volunteer notes, “While it’s gratifying to help callers, I am most grateful for the acute consciousness of the world around me that this work has given me: I am now hyper-aware of the underlying meaning in people’s words, and focus on being a more active and compassionate listener.”
While they may be young, our teen volunteers are quick to point out that age bears no relevance to their dedication. One volunteers asserts, “Our generation is conscious of a lot of social problems. Anyone who wants to make a difference cannot just be good at standing up and speaking out. They have to have real skills as a listener.”
These listening skills are empowering our volunteers to improve communities, both locally and globally. For instance, upon learning that Guyana was battling the highest suicide rate in the world, one volunteer took action and reached out to the Pan American Health Organization. She explains, “By combining Samaritans’ resources with the knowledge that I gained from an invited visit to Guyana, I am creating a training manual outlining the Samaritans method for the local Helpline staff, and we plan to launch a youth-centric suicide prevention program.”
Whether helping someone through a moment of crisis or working to prevent suicide worldwide, our tremendous volunteers are tireless in their efforts to make others feel understood and valued. One volunteer concludes, “None of our callers are defined by the struggles they face. The people we get to talk to are often such amazing examples of human strength, resilience, and complexity.” If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a volunteer, visit https://samaritanshope.org/volunteering/.
Names omitted to protect the identities of our volunteers.