At the end of each year as they reflect back on all that has happened and on their collective experiences at IMALIVE with our dedicated volunteers new and old, our supervisors are asked to answer a difficult question:
Who among this amazing group of people they support, root for, cheer with, shed a tear (or two or three) with, and work side-by-virtual-side with through the ups and downs that they face together as a team in helping those who face a crisis, not only exemplifies what it is to be a crisis responder – that is, unceasingly demonstrates nuance of skill and exceptional empathy balanced upon the foundations and tenets of crisis intervention – but who also consistently dazzles with something special beyond those qualities – a special something that’s hard to put into words, but which inspires to remind us just how far those essential skills combined with the essence of human kindness can extend when armed with a willingness and selfless motivation to make life a little more hopeful for a struggling stranger.
This year that someone special supervisors answered with and who we celebrate as the Volunteer of the Year for 2021 is Keita from the United Kingdom!
Previously honored as Volunteer of the Month in May of 2021, Keita joined the IMALIVE team in April of 2020 via sponsorship from PostSecret; since that time she has dedicated over 425 hours to the cause of suicide prevention and crisis intervention and helped countless people in crisis to feel heard and stay safe.
Supervisors say it best, and sent along these comments with their nomination:
- Keita’s style of chatting is friendly while being direct – like the friend you can tell anything to and who responds with a profound truth out of the chaos of what you’ve said that gives you the perspective you need in that moment.
- They bring an upbeat attitude to each shift; no matter what else may be going on in life or their personal challenges they must also balance that day, they carve out the emotional space and time to make sure others who are struggling have a place to be heard and find support.
- Keita is one of those volunteers whose own cup is filled, not drained, when helping others.
- I’ve only had shifts with Keita over the last month or so – it had been quite a while since we worked together prior to that. I work with so many deserving volunteers, but thinking about it over the last week, Keita kept coming to mind as someone deserving of this honor. I have complete confidence in Keita when it comes to her ability to work independently, and I know she will reach out if she needs help or at the first sign of anything out of the ordinary, and ask for that help in a detailed way that makes my “job” of offering guidance easy. Keita is one of those shift stars.
- They consistently take a team approach to each chat, working together with the chatter to unbox the crisis and figure out what calls they can make from among possible resources and coping skills and people they have available in order create a safe plan to be here to work on long term solutions.
- Keita is super receptive and responsive to feedback and proactive in seeking it out by brainstorming with the supervisor to achieve the best possible outcomes for a chat and to develop skills to navigate the next challenge.
- Keita is an all around pleasure to have on shift!
- A bright start amongst other stars. Always present and alert and in a good mood. Has a perfect eye for detail. With a firm and caring attitude she comforts the person in crisis while looking for their strengths at the same time. Building on trust comes naturally for her. And she has a knack for finding that one thing that changes perspective for the person in the chat.
- Keita is my top choice for this honor and I’m happy to see her name on the final nomination list. During the time she carves out of busy days and her own challenges to share with our chatters, she is there 110% for them with a depth of empathy and a tenderness in navigating their pain that traverses the screen via text.
- Keita has always been a joy to have on shift. Keita connects well with those that come to chat here and always helps them feel really listened to and valued by the time that they leave.
Here is one of many post-chat comments Keita received from the chat visitors she helped.
“The person who helped me today, is an angel. Calmed me down completely and definitely knows what they’re doing. Thank you so much Alex if you see this. You helped a life.”
Keita, your star shines bright – congratulations on being chosen as Volunteer of the Year 2021! We – and, most of all, our chatters – are fortunate to have you on the IMALIVE team!
We extend a heartfelt thank you, too, to each and every volunteer – you are all stars in your own right, without whom that constellation of hope and help to those in crisis that is IMALIVE would not be a part of this universe in which we live. THANK YOU, one and all!