In November 2014, Mike Becker, Senior Manager of the Project Management Office for ENMAX, was looking for a volunteer opportunity. Through his research he found Distress Centre Calgary and knew it is a charity that ENMAX supports. He submitted an application, was accepted and took the 60 hours training in January 2015. He has been answering crisis calls and chats in our contact centre for a little over a year now.

We sat down with Mike to discuss life in the contact centre.

Q: How did you first get involved with Distress Centre?

Mike: I was looking for volunteer opportunities. I had some extra time and I knew that ENMAX had been supportive of Distress Centre so that was one that I looked at. It didn’t take much looking into before I realized that the volunteer opportunity provided a lot more than I could get out of other volunteer opportunities.

Q: What did you want to get out of volunteering?

Mike: [I wanted] to make an impact in the community.

Q: How has it been so far?

Really good. I’ve gotten a lot out of it. I find after doing a shift there’s always calls I remember and feel good about. At the very least I gain a bit of insight into somebody’s life because they are going through some tough times.

Q: How did you find the training?

The training was excellent. Totally worth taking in itself. It was a bit of a commitment and going into it I was like, oh I’m not quite sure how much I’m going to get out of this training, am I going to be comfortable on the lines? But the training totally prepared me and in my first session on the lines I was a lot more comfortable than I thought I would be.

Q: How did ENMAX react when they found out you were volunteering with us?

They were very supportive. I required a couple of references and one of them was from a colleague who is in Community Investment and was very familiar with Distress Centre. She was very encouraging and supportive of me volunteering.

Q: Has volunteering here affected your work at ENMAX?

It’s helped me deal with people in difficult situations. I encounter different problems in the workplace, but certainly people have personal problems that impact their day-to-day life and with the training and my experience on the lines, I’d say there are definitely some skills that are transferable. I get a new appreciation for the fact that people might be going through some stuff outside of work that can negatively impact their life.

Q: How has volunteering here impacted the rest of your life?

I think I have more empathy towards people and I have a better understanding that they may be going through a whole lot more than what is on the surface. I get calls from people from all walks of life, who are going through a lot of different stuff, so I’m more appreciative and empathetic.

Q: Do you have standout calls that you can think of?

Some of the high risk calls stick with me, especially when there’s an intervention involved and you have the [Contact Centre Coordinators] (CCCs) supporting me throughout the call. Others that stick out are when the caller has come to their own conclusion and they have a revelation about the direction they should head – and I’m just there for them and helping them come to their own conclusion.

Q: Would you recommend volunteering here to others? To other ENMAX employees and those in the corporate world?

Absolutely. I’m an engineer by profession, I work in project management, on power-plant related things, so it provides a bit of balance in doing something completely different from my typical day-to-day job.

Please note that answers were edited for clarity and length.

In 2013, ENMAX entered into a three year $150,000 partnership with Distress Centre (DC) to assist flood affected Albertans and to support our volunteer program. DC received $50,000 per annum with the majority of the funds going to support our Basic Needs Fund (BNF). This fund provides Calgary’s most vulnerable with the means to pay a utility bill, damage deposit, transit, moving and storage fees, etc., with the end goal that the client becomes financially stable.

Interested in volunteering? We’d love to have you.