Our most recent Rising Radvocate is Natasha, a Portland Talkline advocate who is transitioning off the phones after over a decade of service. Natasha has committed her time and incredible spirit to Backline in varying capacities since 2004 and has seen Backline evolve from a small group of volunteers to an organization with staff and volunteers in four states! When asked to reflect on her time at Backline, Natasha had this to say:
“Backline has held a special place in my heart since 2004. I was 25 years old when I first became involved with Backline and, at the time, was lost in my freedom to be an adult, clueless as to which direction was the right path for me. After a year of helping Backline’s founder, Grayson Dempsey – who is the most inspirational woman I have ever met – and her small group of volunteers with Talkline outreach, I went to college. After graduating, I was unsure of what I wanted to do next; I could only think that I wanted to be with Backline again. So in 2011, I applied to be a Talkline advocate – the rest is history! While Backline has changed a lot over its first decade, I am so proud of its growth and ability to keep true to its mission – supporting people with an open heart.
Volunteering with Backline has given me direction and has inspired me to be the best version of myself. From this strong community of women, I have learned listening, communication, and empathy skills that I wind up practicing every day. I have never been with another organization that was so aligned to my values and built additional core values that I carry with me still.
It has been an honor to hold space for our callers, hear their stories, and validate their strengths when they were too overwhelmed by emotion to see them.”
Our Talkline Program Manager, Charley Downing, has worked alongside Natasha for several years and when asked to contribute to this spotlight was reminded of this quote by Maya Angelou:
“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”
Charley went on to say:
“No matter what Natasha is doing, she has the ability to see the need and work to fill it. I have learned from Natasha what it looks like to always put your best foot forward; working in residential care, she was truly boss. Natasha is also a wonderful autobiographical writer and all around lovely human, always paying close attention to the world around her. Natasha says, “when I grow old, I’ll be a crazy cat lady. For now, I just take pictures of the ones in my neighborhood.” The images she snaps are the best! It’s like all the cats know she will capture their “best side.” It is so hard to imagine our PDX cohort without Natasha. Thank you for your years of service to our callers and always for your lasting friendship!”
Natasha leaves her mark on Backline with all of her incredible work and commitment. It goes without saying that she will be so very missed!