YouthLine Everyday, by Scott
My name is Scott, and for the past year, I have volunteered as a peer helper on Oregon Partnership’s teen crisis line, the YouthLine. When the possibility of me volunteering at YouthLine was first proposed to me, I had no idea what my eventual experiences here would entail. Looking back on my time there, I am very grateful the tremendous opportunity was simply handed to me.
About two years ago, my mother became involved in Oregon Partnership and the message they try to spread. Somehow, she found out about YouthLine, as well as the fact that it is volunteered at by teenagers. She immediately recognized that this would be a positive place for me to spend time helping people and recommended that I volunteer to take calls on the YouthLine crisis line. I considered the idea, but really had not had any experience before with an organization quite like OP. More importantly, I had not had any experience before with an environment quite like the one that YouthLine fosters.
Fortunately, I gave in to my mother’s encouragement and decided to volunteer at YouthLine. At that point, I really had no idea what to expect. My first experience at YouthLine was during a week long training course. The training covered a good deal of topics (substance abuse, depression, suicide, dating, abuse, and others), which would normally be considered delicate conversations at best. These awkward topics, however, were all handled amazingly respectfully by this group of teenagers. None of the volunteers seemed like my average friends. They would not make immature jokes, make fun of people’s differences, and certainly never retreat back to immature stereotypes and biases. That was the first thing in my time at YouthLine that struck me as being very powerful. My time there was probably the closest I had ever come to being surrounded by a group of realistically open-minded and honest people. Seeing these incredible virtues so clearly in this group of kids made me realize how little I see this kind of behavior in my everyday life. Nowhere else have I witnessed teenagers to be this mindful and respectful of other people’s beliefs and differences.
This idea leads me into the second amazing thing I found about YouthLine. YouthLine’s general goal is to help teenagers be safe and reduce stress by avoiding and dealing with tricky situations. In order to do this, everyone at YouthLine needs to keep an open mind when dealing with any type of caller. The cool thing, however, is that the volunteers at YouthLine do this all the time, not just when they are trying to help a caller. In this way, YouthLine is like almost no other place I have come across. Everyone here at YouthLine supports its mission as a lifestyle, not just a weekly volunteer shift. Every time I come into YouthLine, I clearly see this in the actions and attitudes of the people. It is a very friendly place where you can talk about anything and be completely open.
The kind of environment that YouthLine fosters is one that I wish I could experience everywhere. That is why I’m thankful every time I realize that YouthLine volunteers are promoting this kind of attitude everyday in the way they live their lives.