Volunteer Spotlight: Jay Furr

This week, we want to highlight one of our amazing volunteers: Jay Furr! Keep reading to learn about Jay and why he volunteers for NAMI Vermont.

Which program(s) do you volunteer for?

I volunteer for NAMI FaithNet, NAMI In Our Own Voice, NAMI Connection Recovery Support Groups, and NAMIWalks Vermont.

What brought you to volunteer for NAMI, and what keeps you here?

What brought me to NAMI? My own struggles with depression and anxiety, but moreover, my wife Carole Furr got invited to be the treasurer for the NAMI Vermont board and I started tagging along to things. I wound up on the board myself for a while but in recent years have confined myself to volunteer work.

What do you like best about volunteering for NAMI Vermont?

I volunteer for NAMI because I am quite familiar with what it feels like to feel all lost and in the dark and with nowhere to turn. In our very rural state of Vermont, there aren’t enough opportunities for people to get the mental health support they need and I see NAMI as a means of advocating for better services and for providing programs that support those in small towns and communities.

What is the hardest thing about volunteering?

The hardest thing about volunteering is what you *don’t* do. As volunteers, we are not in a position to say “you should” or “you ought” or “this worked for me, you should give it a try” or “this medication did wonders for me” or “that medicine made my depression a lot worse, you probably shouldn’t take it.” Sharing your lived wisdom is okay, but acting as a psychologist and giving quasi-medical advice with no actual training is a slippery slope we DON’T want to go down. What works for one person might not work for another person, as each person’s issues and each person’s biochemistry are distinct and unique to them. A lot of people see a problem and want to “fix” it and it’s hard to stifle that urge when you’re talking with someone who’s going through a lot of stuff. We are there to support, educate, advocate, etcetera, but we are not there to prescribe, dictate, recommend, and so forth.

 In general (outside of NAMI), what brings you joy in your life?

What brings me joy in my life is spending time with my wife Carole and our three cats, baking, cooking, and going for twenty-mile walks.