Volunteers of the Month – February *Ariana & Kristen*

The 13th-century Persian poet and scholar Rumi is quoted as saying: “There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.” 

You could say this voice represents emotion, that unspoken feeling of experience – positive and negative – driving the words or lying just beneath the surface of them. Our February Volunteers of the Month are two deeply empathetic crisis responders adept at hearing this unspoken voice, and using it to understand the individual struggle(s) a person is experiencing, how they are feeling, and – through active listening and guiding them through the crisis intervention process – listening for and highlighting that hopeful perspective on the situation that empowers the person to plan for their next steps of safety.

Ariana has shared over 270 hours on shifts chatting with those in crisis since becoming certified in December of 2020. As with many of our volunteers, Ariana came to our organization with a desire to contribute to something larger than herself with the goal of helping others. She hoped “to learn how to be more understanding, empathetic, and a better listener,” and wanted “to learn when to listen, when to offer support, and when to share resources.” Already considered a “good colleague, friend, and listener” by those in her personal life, Ariana felt there was still more to learn and opportunity to be better alike for those she knows and those anonymously seeking support. She quickly embraced the training at IMAlive and her natural talents to do exactly that and build upon and hone the skills she possessed. Supervisors remark that Ariana’s quiet and warm demeanor on shift compliments the capable, affable, and confident approach she brings to every chat she takes. Always maintaining a positive attitude and open communication, Ariana is quick to pick up new chats and give space, as well as respectfully provide focus where needed, to people in crisis as they strive to be understood and find a path safely forward. Ariana, the IMAlive team is delighted to honor you as a Volunteer of the Month, and we look forward to doing better and better together in the days to come! Congrats!

April of 2021 sparked the start of Kristen’s journey at IMAlive, and as she approaches her one year anniversary with the organization, she is also quickly approaching the 200 hours of service milestone. Like so many others, Kristen nurtures a deep “desire to help if it’s possible,” and through IMAlive’s international platform, she hopes “to help other people who might be struggling, and to always operate from a place of humility and non-judgement.” Having had exposure in her personal life to the deep struggles of a number of people close to her, Kristen vaulted into the volunteer responder role with eyes, ears, and heart wide open. Supervisors praise Kristen’s intuitive responses in conversations, saying she stands out for having an excellent skill for pinpointing what bothers a person in crisis most, allowing her to make great connections with them as they engage in the help process. Her keen observation and eye for detail help her to point out things that come up in a conversation that might’ve gone unnoticed otherwise but could be turning points in establishing a safe plan/safe steps. Cheerful and caring, Kristen’s positivity and compassion make her a pleasure to have on any shift team; these same qualities weave into her chats, making her a confidant to those chatters who may be hesitant to open up, with her patience and encouragement creating a space so that that person feels safe and comfortable to share more. Kristen, thank you for all those you’ve helped so far, and all those you have yet to help – congratulations on being named a Volunteer of the Month!

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