Let’s meet another one of the amazing volunteer Radvocates who answer calls and offer unconditional support on our national toll-free Talkline. This month we introduce Jordanna, who joined the Portland cohort in 2011!
How/when/why did you first get involved with Backline?
During my first year in Portland, I volunteered with Planned Parenthood. They hosted their yearly Block Party and I was checking out some of the tables during my break and met Rayna at the Backline table. We struck up a conversation and I was impressed by her explanation of Backline’s approach to reproductive justice through the fundamental value of non-biased support. I was waiting to apply for Midwifery school and thought that doing some reproductive volunteer work in the meantime would bring me a lot of joy. I’ve always loved hearing people’s stories because I know that just having someone to listen to them makes a big difference. Everyone deserves support. Backline simply seemed like a perfect fit.
What has surprised you most in your work on the Talkline?
The calls. In our extensive training, we covered many types of calls, but there is nothing more raw than the emotional voice and detailed nuances of each story. Many of the calls I will remember forever, maybe because of the connection made, or the intensity of the emotions, or because of the frustration I felt with the number of oppressive forces that led to so many of the situations. In life I value what is authentic and thus the genuineness of each person’s struggle is very real for me. People are so strong!
I guess, second to the intensity of some of the calls, is that I am constantly inspired by the callers. In a situation where someone in need calls and I answer, I never expected to be so fulfilled, so helped and encouraged and strengthened by them. Most callers will never know that when we ended the call, I was so impressed by them in spite of their struggle, in spite of all the things people judge themselves on, because not only did they reach out for help when they needed it, but they are willing to do difficult things in life, for themselves, for their children, for their families. The calls have increased my understanding of the impact of unethical systems, lack of education and access, and unsupportive community, but it is the callers themselves who have produced a sense of optimism in me.
What’s your favorite thing about being on the Talkline?
Being an advocate for change. What Backline is doing is giving support to those who lack it. To be honest, I’ve taken calls that were hardly about pregnancy, abortion, adoption, or parenting at all. Maybe a call was about relationships, what it’s like to be a teenager, religious teachings, healing trauma, or finances. It doesn’t actually matter what the subject is — the bottom line is that people are seeking connection and support and that’s what Backline aims to provide. It’s the kind of service that deserves to be there for all sorts of topics, because many people are isolated and judged in their day-to-day lives, and don’t have a safe space to be open and talk. I’m beyond honored to be able to give time to those who need it. I want to be a friend who listens, reflects, and empowers, and I get to do that, even if for just 15 minutes. It satisfies the part of me that wants to make the world a better place, that wants people to know they’re loved. I know I’m giving what I can and that it makes a difference. What could be better?
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise your Backline colleagues.
For FIVE whole years, I wanted to be an Air Force pilot. This was before I realized that it might mean I’d be property of the US government and possibly BOMBING people — but I really wanted to fly the skies. These days, I’d settle for a 2-seater glider for a vastly reduced carbon footprint and for the fun of the scenic view (which is probably less surprising to those who know me :).
What is your favorite thing to do for fun?
Be in nature. Hiking, exploring, even gardening. I just want to be with the elements, observing, sensing, touching, tasting. Being in nature (especially with my sweetie) really nurtures me and makes me feel at home. It’s where I really want to be, most days. Give me the ocean, the underbrush, a birdsong, or an oak tree — I’m in heaven.
If Backline’s mission were achieved and all people had the support and resources they needed for pregnancy, parenting, abortion and adoption experiences, where would you volunteer your time?
I’d move on to the ethical treatment and care of animals and bioregions. Maybe I could volunteer with BARK, a local organization that defends and restores the Mt. Hood area (legally campaigning against timber sale), or maybe with a group working to improve the conditions of Zoo animals (or end zoos….). Something to benefit the earth! Maybe get more involved in blocking the Keystone pipeline.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I love the Backline community. The people who work for Backline, from the board, to our staff, to the advocates — I really love and appreciate all that they are and do. I feel really close with the group of us and am so deeply grateful for all the energy they put into being superb human beings! Keep it up, ya’ll!! 😀
Thank you Jordanna!!