Volunteer Highlight: Jane Hong

On my first day at B.R.A.I.N. attending the F.B.I. meeting, I told myself I wasn’t going to come back. I was overwhelmed, unaccustomed to the cultural difference, shy- I was a fish out of water. I was completely out of my element as the infamous mic on a cord was placed into my hand for an introduction. I thought to myself, “I am so uncomfortable. I don’t think this is it. I am definitely not coming back.” 

That day, Angela had chosen the topic of “grieving”, which is quite a dreary way to start out the new year, but I quietly sat and listened. Sitting and listening soon turned into soaking in every moment from there on out. My dog of 7 years had died 2 weeks before and I was still in the process of grieving. We began to learn that it’s okay to grieve and to go through a whirlpool of emotions. I began to feel comfortable and accepted in an odd way, as I learned to grieve alongside others who were grieving for reasons of their own. I shed some tears that night, in front of a group of strangers whom I was convinced that I would not invest in. Yet, I somehow found myself back at B.R.A.I.N. the following week, and the week after that, and so on. Soon enough, I began to realize that it wasn’t so much about how can I give, but almost selfishly, what will I get out of B.R.A.I.N. today? Because really, it’s what B.R.A.I.N. does for me. From the personal testimonies of your everyday fighters to the time spent with survivors, clinicians, peers, there’s so much to soak in from the people at B.R.A.I.N.

Now you’ll probably see me bouncing around the room, talking nonstop to all my friends.  You can find me talking to a girlfriend about her cute new shoes or cracking a joke with a buddy who still carries his strong sense of humor, or catching up on the latest football (or just Notre Dame) news. The people at B.R.A.I.N. are so worthy of having their stories heard and shared that it really is my honor to be alongside them as they do so. I mean, how can you not fall in love with a group of people who have seen darker days but still choose joy? People who share laughter to those who are in need of it and speak truth to those searching for it? How can one resist that and say that’s uncomfortable and that they would never come back? Surely, not me!