Helena Grbavac, Territory Manager of Southwestern Ontario
Helena Grbavac, Territory Manager of Southwestern Ontario

Volunteer crisis responders respond to calls, offering emotional support and resources to people with concerns related to suicide, this includes performing suicide risk assessments. Responders work collaboratively with the service user on a safety plan and may offer referral information where appropriate. In a small number of cases, responders may initiate an active rescue, to ensure the immediate safety of someone at risk. As a crisis responder, you are making a real difference in people’s lives as their lifeline during some of their darkest hours.

 “I was always drawn to helping people in need. Before the pandemic I was being pulled in all directions and I just couldn’t find the time to truly commit to volunteering in a way that would make an impact. When the pandemic started, I noticed I had a lot of free time. I did research on how to volunteer remotely and landed on CSC’s website. I saw an opportunity to volunteer with Canada Suicide Prevention Service (CSPS) as a Crisis Responder. I submitted my application in August and received a call the same month to start my training. I was taking calls in October 2020 and since then I volunteer 24 hours a month. Sometimes the calls can be challenging and emotionally draining but every shift is rewarding as I know I was there for someone that was in crisis. Nothing makes me happier than hearing someone say ‘Thank you for talking to me. You’ve really helped me tonight.’ Furthermore, the community within CSPS is particularly supportive and inspirational” says Helena.

Making the decision to volunteer with CSPS was a very personal one for Helena. “I lost my father to suicide in 2012. Since then, I have been thinking on how to get involved with suicide prevention. Since I couldn’t help my father, I thought maybe I can help someone’s parent, sister, friend, brother, etc. The work this organization does is critical to our society, especially during the pandemic as the number of calls have increased by 100%”. Helena believes that “giving is not just about donating, it is about making a difference. It can be easy to donate, and I’ve done it for years. But when we give our time (the most precious gift, one we can never get back), we truly give a part of ourselves. I would encourage everyone to volunteer as a Crisis Responder. It made me appreciate how blessed I am with everything I have but it also made me realize the value of human interaction. Loneliness is a serious condition in the world that we live in today, but we can all help with one simple phone call.”

Helena appreciates the support of Shell’s employee volunteerism programs. “I love what Shell does for the communities and the different programs we have. I was so happy that for my 15th anniversary I could select a charitable donation as a gift. I loved the campaign ‘Fuelling Kindness for Mental Health’ which allowed my donation to be corporately matched to an organization that is so dear to me. What’s even better is that my volunteering hours qualified for a Fuelling Kindness Grant. This year alone, thanks to Shell, close to $2,000 will go to Canada Suicide Prevention Service. That is truly remarkable!”

Crisis Services Canada is an organization that is committed to supporting individuals who are emotionally vulnerable or who may have significant mental health issues, in the most caring and least intrusive manner possible. CSC places value on collaboration with family, friends and community organizations to help reduce the risks of suicide. The organization is committed to respecting cultural and social differences; they believe that every human being deserves the opportunity to express themselves, free of judgement.