What’s In It For Me?

The phone rings again for about the tenth time in as many minutes.” Hello Crisis Line”, – dead silence. "Hello, Crisis Line”. I hear a very faint sobbing sound. "You’ve reached the Crisis Line and I’m here for you. Take your time”, I say in a soft and slow voice.

This call, like many others are all part of my commitment to helping people in our community. Sometimes they just need to hear a friendly voice, a bit of praise or someone who will listen, unconditionally, without judgment, without fear.

I had never really volunteered before this, but something really struck a chord in me during a mental health first aid training session.

So, I dove in with both feet and signed up for the Volunteer Crisis Line Training. It was incredible. I learned so many skills that were not only valuable in talking with callers, but also skills that can be used in all areas of life – family, friends, colleagues and even strangers. We all have crisis at some point in our lives and it’s good to know there are services to call upon in times of need.

So, off I went with my newfound skills and enjoying every single call on every single shift I took on the Crisis Lines. I felt that I was really making a difference in the world. I took pride in being able to help even one person on a shift. I was able to build a connection, I was able to show care and concern, I was able to encourage people that they really do have the resources within themselves.

Well, the Crisis Line was so rewarding that I decided, "Hey, what else can I do to help?” So, off I went again. This time to the Canadian Mental Health Association, Mid Island Branch. They needed Board members. I signed up. I attend each meeting with pride and a sense of heartfelt thanks for the

opportunity that I have been given to work with such a wonderful organization. CMHA provides resources to make life more manageable and meaningful for those living with mental illnesses.

I have been inhaling all this stuff like crazy and want more and more. What the heck, I’ve got more time to give, my children have grown and left home, I have a full-time job, but what else would I be doing after work? It’s not like it takes every evening or every weekend. Besides, it’s so rewarding and fulfilling. I’m going to sign up for Nanaimo Family Life Volunteer Counseling training. Many

weeks later, I arrived at a new place again. Feeling more confident and looking forward to taking that next step toward face-to-face lay counseling, I began my sessions.

Now, I sit here contemplating about how I have grown and become a better person along this wonderful journey of learning and giving. You know, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. In fact, I was sorry that I didn’t start volunteering sooner. I’ve connected with so many wonderful like-minded people in our community and they all have something valuable and profound to teach me on my journey.

If you feel you want to add something meaningful to your life, consider volunteering. There are so many local and worldwide organizations in all communities that need volunteers in all kinds of areas, I’m sure you’d find something that appeals to you.

Don’t wait; you will be amazed that there’s a lot in it for you!

Peggy works in Human Resources and when she’s not at work, she volunteers her time with CMHA Mid Island Branch, Crisis Society and Centre for Healthy Relationships. She lives in Yellowpoint with her husband, dog and three cats.