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Volunteer Spotlight: Laiba

Volunteer Spotlight: Laiba

Image: Laiba (middle) with other ConnecTeen volunteers at the 40th Anniversary Celebration in September 2023.

Laiba joined Distress Centre as a ConnecTeen volunteer in 2021 when she was 15 years old. It was still the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and after seeing the struggles her friends were experiencing, she wanted to help. That’s when she decided to volunteer with ConnecTeen. She’s been a ConnecTeen volunteer now for 2-and-a-half years. 

ConnecTeen is Distress Centre’s youth program, providing confidential crisis support for youth and teens in Calgary and Area. Youth can contact ConnecTeen 24 hours a day by text, chat and phone to talk about any issue they’re dealing with. During peer support hours, youth can speak with a youth volunteer around their own age.  

We sat down with Laiba and asked her a couple questions about her experience on a youth crisis line. 

Q: What keeps you volunteering with ConnecTeen?  

The thing that keeps me right where I am, right at Distress Centre, is the amount of change I know that I make in people’s lives. I have had dozens of chats and calls where people are going through a lot, they’re struggling, and by the end of that chat or call, they’re feeling a lot better. And that’s a feeling that I don’t want to ever lose. I really enjoy being able to help people as much as possible. And so having a good chat, even just one in a month, makes it worth it. 

Q: What would you say to someone who’s thinking of volunteering?  

Don’t be scared. It’s definitely a learning curve and sometimes you’re not sure if you can do it. But I promise you that Distress Center has so much support in place for you and so much training in place that you’ll learn how to do it and you’ll become a better person doing it. So my advice is do it. 

Q: Why do you think it’s important for ConnecTeen to be available for youth? 

ConnecTeen is a unique program in that for a lot of youth, it’s very hard to have peer support with peers who actually know what they’re doing. And so a lot of the peer support that you get in the status quo is from your friends who can only be there for you so much, right? And they can only empathize so much. And they only know so much about how to talk to you about your concerns. But with ConnecTeen, you have a group of highly trained individuals who are just about your age and with people who will always be there for you. And we know what you’re going through because we’re the same age as you, so we understand the struggles a lot better than adults would. When their struggles are about school or dating and stuff where adults might shrug you off, ConnecTeen is always there to listen. 

Q: What do you do for self-care? 

I’m a big fan of the outdoors. And so, you know, when I’ve had a hard call or a hard day in general, I like to get in my car and I drive to either Tom Campbell Hill or I like Crescent Heights. And I sit and I look at the city, and if I have a little bit more time, I’ll drive up to Kananaskus and I’ll stop at this cute little waterfall and, you know, just watch it for a little bit. 

Thanks so much for chatting with us Laiba and thank you for volunteering with ConnecTeen! 

Want to make a difference? Learn more about volunteering with ConnecTeen or Distress Centre:

In the spirit of respect, reciprocity and truth, Distress Centre Calgary would like to honour and acknowledge Moh’kinsstis, and the traditional Treaty 7 territory and oral practices of the Blackfoot confederacy: Siksika, Kainai, Piikani, as well as the Îyâxe Nakoda and Tsuut’ina nations. We acknowledge that this territory is home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3 within the historical Northwest Métis homeland. Finally, we acknowledge all Nations – Indigenous and non – who live, work and play on this land, and who honour and celebrate this territory.