05 Apr Meet Bob John
February 29, 2016
Bob John is a Caring Contact listener and President of the Board of Trustees.
How did you first hear about Caring Contact?
I have lived in Westfield since 1988. I became aware of Contact through the local newspaper and over the years, it sparked my interest. In 2006, I was looking to become involved with volunteer work or outreach work and decided to give Caring Contact a try.
What was it that interested you in Caring Contact?
I realized how important it is to have someone to listen. I have appreciated having friends and family that I could call on when I needed someone to listen to me. When I was going through some tough times, I made a promise to myself that I would try and be there for other people in my life in the same way. I saw Caring Contact as way to fulfill that promise.
What motivates you to continue to volunteer?
I have gotten involved in a number of different ways and at different levels. As a listener; also as a facilitator and now as a board member and board president. Contact has become a big and important part of my life at this stage.
What is the biggest reward for you?
I really enjoy working with the new people on the line as a facilitator in the training class. I also do some tech tutoring where I explain the technology. I get to interact with all sorts of people (listeners) from all walks of life, different ages and backgrounds; people I probably never would have encountered. And yet we share something really, really important; something that is very basic. Something that ties us all together and that is our humanity and our willingness to share that with other people.
What is your biggest challenge?
It is always a challenge after being a listener for so many years to remain patient with callers, especially regular callers. People you have been talking to for so many years and their stories are identical to what they were eight or nine years ago. I realize how important it is to have someone to listen. It is challenging to listen to someone who is stuck in place for so long and with no indication that something will change for them. It is getting a window on a world that we don’t really know. It is not about the listener but about the caller.
What do you think the impact on the caller is?
I think the impact is huge. I recently spoke to a caller who had no where else to turn. This person had many issues that she was dealing with. This person had no one, no relatives, no friends. For her own sanity, she needed someone to talk to and just to listen to her. I was able to listen. That is all she wanted. That is why she called. There is a common expression of gratitude shared by the callers.
What do you think the Impact on the community is?
I think we live in a society and community and culture where people get forgotten, people are isolated and we don’t see them and we don’t hear them but they are there. These are our neighbors, and to me it is reassuring to know that Contact is there for those people. I believe our community is special. We have been listening for 40 years. It is a tribute to our community. We all have an obligation to take care of each other.
How has being a listener changed you?
Initially, with the training I learned techniques to be a better listener. Even someone like me can learn to listen better. My family and friends probably would not have expected me to do this kind of volunteer work. I was someone who probably liked to hear myself talk rather than listen to other people. We teach this in our training and I have benefited from that training. There are many applications in our every day life; with family and in our workplace. Caring Contact has also given me the opportunity to take on a leadership role. I had never been on a board before, never been a board president, and It has been challenging and rewarding for me.