Carol Markusse, a successful business professional, was enjoying life with her husband and two children. Carol thought she had it all. She had obtained her undergraduate degree in business and later completed her Masters of Business Administration from Devry Institute of Technology in Calgary. Although her life seemed complete, Carol was unsettled and felt that something was missing.

“In the beginning, the business degree just seemed to be the right way to go,” says Carol. “But I got to the point where I was like, I think I’m going to do what I should have done. I want to do counselling work.”

A few professionals she had been meeting with recommended she look into Distress Centre (DC). So in June 2016, Carol began her journey into counselling when she applied to volunteer for DC. After an extensive three-week training session and multiple observation shifts, she worked her first solo shift on the crisis lines in August.

Hundreds of volunteers at DC volunteer for various reasons, but when asked why she volunteers Carol’s answer was simple: “I wanted to volunteer so I could get out and see what issues people are dealing with. I want to help people.”

In order to volunteer at DC a person must commit to a minimum of 48 shifts over one year, but Carol has no intentions of leaving anytime soon: “It seems like I’ve been here forever, but the people here are so awesome that my intention is to stay.”

Although most of the calls Carol receives end on a positive note, there are calls that she still thinks about. “Sometimes people are able to verbalize that the call helped, but other times they can’t, so you have to go home and be okay with that,” says Carol. “I remember one particular call I received from a senior, and it made me realize that we all struggle with something. They are people just like you and me who are having a rough time.”

Carol is one of over 450 volunteers who responded to 75,215 crisis calls in 2016. To date the number of calls has seen a steady increase monthly since January and as of May 31st our highly trained volunteers have responded to 32,467 calls.

Not only is Carol planning to continue on as a crisis line volunteer with DC, she is also in the process of developing her own social service club. The idea came to her after speaking with a senior caller who was very lonely. The caller had family but they rarely visited. The Social Service Club will pair families, including her own with a senior, and the family members will assist the senior with their needs.

“If a senior needs their dog walked or if they’re lonely and just need a visit then the selected family can do those things for them,” says Carol.

While Carol’s future endeavors are going to keep her busy she wouldn’t have it any other way: “Volunteering and pursuing counselling has opened a lot of conversation with my family,” Carol says. “The open conversations with my children allow me to share the harsh realities of life and let them know that they are so fortunate not to be exposed to them.”

In addition to creating the Social Service Club, volunteering, and working two days a week, Carol has applied for her Masters of Counselling Degree, which she starts in September.

“Working the crisis lines at DC gave me the opportunity to go to bed each night with the feeling that I made a difference in one person’s life. My experience has helped me find and pursue my true passion, which is counselling,” says Carol.

If you are interested in becoming a crisis line volunteer or ConnecTeen volunteer please see our volunteer opportunities to learn more.