National Safe Place Week is wrapping up. It’s been a week celebrating the program and creating more awareness about how it works and why the Tulsa-area needs a the program.
As is often the case, after people learn about what Safe Place really does, many want to know how they can participate or support it. The short and long answer is the same: Volunteer.
To become a Safe Place volunteer is easy, but there is a process. Start by visiting YST.org and registering as an individual volunteer (https://www.yst.org/volunteer).
“Once they’ve submitted that,” says Sarah Beers, YST’s Safe Place Coordinator, “I’ll get in touch with them for a phone interview. If they pass the phone interview, we schedule an in-person interview and training session.”
After that comes an evaluation, then a background check. And then possibly more training. (We do not take shortcuts with regard to youth in crisis.)
“We train them until they feel competent to be able to help out a youth,” says Sarah. “Once they’ve finished all our prerequisites and training, we add them to the volunteer pool. They’ll be required to do yearly training after that should they stay involved.”
Sarah says the ideal Safe Place volunteer is someone who’s compassionate and willing to make a minimal time and resource commitment that will make a huge impact in the life of a youth. Volunteers need to be willing to have one-on-one conversations with teens while maintaining healthy boundaries, to be compassionate without being intrusive.
“This is the only Safe place Program in the nation that runs off volunteers, and we are very successful with it,” says Sarah. “They are important because they are the bridge who get young people in crisis to the people with the resources to help them get through that crisis. A volunteer may only think it’s 20 minutes of transportation, but what they are really doing is taking a young person away from crisis to safety where we can figure out options for them. That’s a big deal.
“It’s a low time and resource commitment, but it has a really high return. They may only get called three or four times that year, but when they get called, they are very needed. Those four phone calls really matter.”
If you’re interested in becoming a Safe Place volunteer, visit: www.yst.org/volunteer. Our next training and information session is Monday, March 27 at 6:00pm at the YST campus (311 S. Madison).