What does it take to be Alex? Does it take bravery? Does it take a perfectly healthy mind? What about a background in mediation or counseling? What about studying psychology, abnormal psychology, human studies? Do you need a high school diploma, GED, or an associate’s degree? Does it require a fully lived life? In reality, Alex requires very little, and that little can really come down to a working computer and stable wifi.
When stripping down the mystery of who is on the other side of that chat window, it’s a human being. No bots unfortunately. People come by the chatline looking to talk to Alex when Alex is compiled by different humans who morph into the Alex the person in crisis needs them to be: a listening ear, an empathic sounding board, or a hopeful guide. You’d be surprised that Alex is someone who has been depressed at one time or another in their life or battles anxiety every single day… Or someone who lives with bipolar disorder. Alex could be 60 with a full degree in architecture. Or someone who has attempted to die by suicide several times in the past. Alex could be someone from Canada who just made the decision to want to help people and found this was the best way to do so.
Alex wouldn’t be Alex would it not be for our volunteers. These volunteers come from all walks of life in different shapes and sizes and smiles, various life experiences, and all certified in crisis intervention training. None of them are knights in shining armors who don’t ever experience negative emotions. Some may have decided to study psychology as a result of their time with the organization, while others work as chefs, teachers, administrative assistants, or are your local UberEats delivery drivers. Alex could be a part of your local community without even knowing it. Just by visiting the website, Alex can become a part of your community.
Though they are thanked at the end of chats, today, April 20th, we’d like to thank the volunteers, every volunteer, on Volunteer Recognition Day. They’re the ones who take the four hours a week (at the very least) to sit down and wait for the ding! on their computers to answer your call. Our volunteers are compassionate and kind who just want to make the world a safer place, an accepting place for anyone to be able to ask for help and effectively receive it. Our volunteers display selflessness, even on their worst days, when they sign up for a shift, ultimately thinking of others and how they can help them. Their dedication is proven time and time again when they cry from hearing a tragic story and show up the next time to help more people. Their reward is not in any tangible form but felt in the heart when a chat goes well, demonstrating how the process of crisis intervention works. And all the traits listed in the first paragraph are assets but not at all essential. The motivation to do good and be good in any and all magnitudes grows stronger within the staff of volunteers.
So we recognize them. We do it monthly, quarterly, yearly but today… today is for them. For every volunteer, 25 or 250 or 1,500 hours in, it’s for them. The average Joes and Janes who listen to the inkling in their hearts that say, “Maybe I can help someone celebrate another birthday, wake up another Christmas morning, or see another sunset.”
No, it doesn’t take bells and whistles to be Alex but it does take a little patience with technology and a hope for a better tomorrow.