Catie Price spent her career as an attorney working in family law. As she approached retirement she knew she wanted to spend time with teenagers, and so she spent her last few years in litigation learning about Second Story. Shortly after retirement Catie attended an Open Door Information session, and began volunteering with Second Story for Teens in Crisis nearly three years ago.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic our volunteer rhythms have changed several times this year, and some of our volunteers have had to step aside due to health and safety reason. Some, though, have remained patiently faithful, and we’ve been able to find creative ways to use their support while still being safe. Catie is one of those volunteers.
“[Pre-COVID] my first couple of hours were spent on one of three tasks: organizing something that had been overlooked (I am particularly proud of the linen closet), deep cleaning one area, or attending to a task needed by one of the counselors,” says Catie. “The kids would arrive back from school, so I helped with check-in and supervised as needed. This is when I improved my Guitar Hero game. I always checked to make sure dinner was handled and, if not, figured out something to make. On almost 100% of those occasions, one or more of the kids was in the kitchen with me. They almost all love to cook!”
Catie has been back intermittently throughout the pandemic, and has supported us in huge ways in the background – organizing the basement to remain socially distant, and helping us keep the huge amounts of essential in-kind donations in order. Catie knows that being a supportive volunteer isn’t always glamorous, but that sometimes the most important work happens in the mundane. “I always felt like I was making a valuable contribution, even when scrubbing the kitchen floor or folding laundry,” Catie says. “It is a real home with real needs–both the physical structure and the people in it benefit from my efforts every time I am there. Who doesn’t want a clean toilet? Or dinner? Or sometimes someone with whom to play Guitar Hero or basketball? When you believe in the central mission, as I do, you feel pride in just being allowed to contribute in any way at all.”
Yet after so many hours with us, there have been some uniquely special moments, too. “You can’t count on every day being a “Make a Difference in a Teen’s Life” kind of day…but those days do come around every so often. Those are the best,” Catie says. “One afternoon we had a girl who was just a few weeks shy of 18, waiting out those weeks at the shelter because she couldn’t live with her family and they wouldn’t support her otherwise. She was incredibly quiet, but articulate, and working towards budgeting, a job, and a place to live. We decided to spend the recreation period outside, and just sat on the bench and chatted. She ran through some of her plans and goals, asking questions occasionally. It was just a really great moment and I like to think I helped her think through some of her goals.”
There are other moments that she remembers fondly, too. “There were two magical weeks where we had seven residents and they all enjoyed each other, and they made me part of their pack! I was there four or five times during that period, picking up some extra shifts, and just loved seeing them get along so well, bickering and making up just like siblings do. I imagine they all learned some great lessons during those weeks and I loved watching it happen. (On the last day they were together, they exchanged numbers and said they would try to “get in trouble on the same day” next year so they could have a reunion. I shared with them that, if they had each other’s numbers, perhaps they could just meet at a local Chipotle or something!)”
Volunteers like Catie are invaluable to our mission – helping us support youth and assist staff. “I very much want, and will continue, to support the efforts Second Story is making to provide resources, attention and care to change a teenager’s life for the better,” she says. “It makes us all better, don’t you think? And I give my time because I have it. And I really wish everyone in the world felt the same.” We are so thankful for the time and dedication our volunteers offer us, especially through this challenging year!