Volunteer Spotlight: Katherine Peters
“Being part of Distress Centre has enriched me as a person and a social worker. It has given me the tools to better understand and apply these tools to crisis intervention. As a human it has opened my eyes to a world of mental health struggles and humbled me. I feel I can better empathize, help and provide support since I have been at Distress Centre.” – Katherine
Katherine Peters started her training to become a Distress Centre volunteer in March 2019. Katherine, who completed her degree in social work in June 2020, was introduced to our agency by a professor who previously worked at DC. From there she joined DC as a practicum student and has remained on as a crisis line volunteer since completing her practicum.
The impact of Distress Centre
Once Katherine began responding to crisis contacts, she quickly became aware of the pain those who suffer from mental health issues or who find themselves in a state of crisis experience and the role that DC fills in supporting those in distress, thanks to the compassionate work of our volunteers and staff.
“Distress Centre on a daily basis is saving people’s lives,” Katherine said. “The values, vision and mission of Distress Centre is what I stand for and what makes me proud to be part of their team.”
Many calls have had a lasting impact on Katherine, whether because it had a happy outcome, shook her up or left her feeling purposeful after helping someone through a difficult crisis.
One call in particular that Katherine says touched her, was a call from the wife of a couple looking for help with their utility bill. Unexpected health costs as well as monthly household expenses had caused the couple to fall behind on payments.
She said the call helped her see the reality many senior citizens are living in.
''I could not stop thinking how at that age she should be at peace, having a relaxed life, not worrying about how to pay her utility bill.''
“I remember having this heavy feeling after my shift. I felt sad and hopeless for this couple. I knew I had done everything that was in my power: I listened to her, I risk assessed, I empathized with her situation. I gathered all her information to make a referral and yet I could not stop thinking how at that age she should be at peace, having a relaxed life, not worrying about how to pay her utility bill.”
Volunteering during COVID-19
The quickly changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic meant that for the first months of our COVID-19 response only paid staff were responding to contacts. Thankfully, we’ve been able to welcome some volunteers back into our contact centre and train others to volunteer remotely.
Katherine has been volunteering remotely since July 2020. She was initially nervous to volunteer without having a Contact Centre Supervisor in the same room, but that fear quickly went away and she has enjoyed the convenience of volunteering without needing to commute. It’s also given her a new appreciation for technology.
“At times I think of how this would have looked like 30+ years ago when there was less technology, resources and facilities than we have today, which allowed Distress Centre to go remote and be able to continue to support individuals in distress,” Katherine said. “Despite what has happened I am thankful we are able to continue helping and supporting people through these trying times.”
A future in helping
Katherine decided to pursue a career in social work because she says social work is both a giving and receiving profession: “I find the more you give and help out the more rewarded you feel as a human being.”
Going forward in her career, she said she is interested in working with seniors, medical social work and further work in the area of crisis intervention and mental health.
''Having been ill has given me wisdom, maturity, strength and it has given me more empathy for others and for myself.''
Katherine has experienced her own hardships in life, including illness, and says that being ill has given her a different perspective on life and made her a better person.
“Having been ill has given me wisdom, maturity, strength and it has given me more empathy for others and for myself.”
For self-care, Katherine takes long hot showers, reads and exercises.
“I find the more I take care of myself the better I respond and manage life stressors,” Katherine said.
Distress Centre is grateful to have Katherine as a part of our team. Interested in volunteering? See our volunteer opportunities.