Volunteers of the Month- August *Francois & Toch*

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Ghandi

There are not enough good things IMAlive has to say about one of our volunteers, Francois, who we are so proud to say is Volunteer of the Month. It was clear to see that Francois, who became certified less than a year ago, had a knack for crisis response. With less than 200 hours under their belt, they are a gem with listening skills, empathy, and connecting with the volunteers on a level where though the solution may not be easy to find, they leave the chat with more hope than when they began. No matter how small or large the crisis may appear, Francois prioritizes the chat, hones in on the chatter’s needs, and helps without judgment with his thoughtful messages. 

Our supervisors, who have had the pleasure of working with them added to and solidified their talent in the field, “Francois is great to work with, always keen and ready to help others, plus he’s very receptive to feedback (on the rare occasion that I need to give it). I always feel confident in Francois’ ability to connect to the PIC and have good outcomes with the chats. He does very well and would be deserving of volunteer of the month.” Other comments included commendations like, “Francois is such an underrated volunteer. He’s so empathetic and patient with PICs and what they need. He really digs deeper into what they’re saying and makes them feel heard before moving forward so they’re safe. He has a natural talent for crisis responding and is wonderful to speak to during the shift.” and “Francois is an excellent responder, who takes time and puts a lot of effort into chats. He is open to feedback, on the rare occasion that it’s needed. I think he is a great choice for volunteer of the month.” 

Even from the beginning, Francois stood out with their unique perspective on why volunteering is so important to them when they said, “I’m a person who has always valued the sensitive, humanitarian side of life. We are all capable of being better human beings if we choose to listen, and be intentional with our will to understand.”

Beautifully said, we are so lucky and honored to name Francois as one of our Volunteers of the Month for August! Congratulations!

When asked what their hopes were for volunteering with IMAlive, Toch’s answer leapt out and resonated with all of us as an example of what we hope people across the world can cling onto when they consider volunteering. Toch said, “I would like to make a positive and meaningful impact in society. More people experience (life-threatening) crises than one might guess, and I believe it important that those in society who can provide support do so. I also hope to inspire those around me to commit to setting time aside to work on a positive cause they believe in. Finally, I hope to help as many people I come in contact with and be in a much better position.” 

With just over 200 hours of volunteering and countless hours to go, Toch became an asset to the organization with his keen insight to the chatters and his natural ability to swiftly and effectively change strategies with a caller as they see fit to best address and help the callers at all and any times during the chat. Additionally, his unique ability to ask questions that forces the callers to deeply reflect on their situation at hand while still being encouraging is a skill supervisors who work with them have come to treasure. They praise Toch for being a “Wonderful responder, kind human being. Toch shows care and has the amazing ability to find the subject the caller cares for the most in life in every chat and uses this to build on a plan. He connects well with every person in crisis and is not afraid to change his approach when he feels it would serve the outcome better. Open in communications, not afraid to ask for help” as well as “Pleasant person to have on shift and an excellent responder. One of those people who is comfortable and capable of changing gears to another approach during a conversation when noticing one approach isn’t working”.

We also asked Toch about what they can contribute that no one else can, their greatest strength. They wonderfully stated “I believe my greatest asset is my ability to connect with and learn from people. As someone who grew up in a different country (where there are many different cultural differences between people), I have lived my life with an understanding that there are many distinctions in perspective and lived experienced between individuals. This has encouraged me to keep an open mind when engaging with others and try to put myself in the next person’s shoes.” With that, Toch has left us stunned and the world just a bit brighter. We are overjoyed to call you our Volunteer of the Month!

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