‘Tis the Season … of joy and happiness for many … but it can also be the season of chaos, sadness, worry, loneliness and crisis for many others. It’s times like this that we can be extremely grateful for the incredible volunteer Crisis Line Responders who offer a critical yet easily accessible safety net for anyone personally dealing with a stressful situation or supporting someone who is facing challenges. Crisis Line Responders are highly trained and are there to provide short-term emotional support, crisis de-escalation, skilled assessment and access to community resources. Help is available by phone 24/7 at 1-888-353-2273 and by text to 45645 between 1 -9 pm PST.
Earlier this year I spoke with a few of the volunteers answering the calls to learn about their experiences and was struck by the deep impact they make in the community, and also in their own lives through this volunteer role. All Crisis Line Responders are anonymous and so I can’t share their names or photos with you but I wanted to share a few quotes that really resonated with me.
One volunteer who has been answering calls for five years said “It’s a really intense thing to do with your free time but it’s very rewarding. I didn’t think that I would still be doing this 5 years later but there’s nothing like that feeling of knowing you have helped somebody be safe for the next little while at least.”
They continued, “My professional life is very people-focused and I do a good job and I work with young adults – I am not in the mental health field – but I see young people are struggling. This is the most meaningful thing that I have every done. There are days that I don’t want to do it. But it is never a waste of time. I have to step out of my own emotions to be present at the end of the line for someone that is just having a moment and empower them to navigate their next steps.”
Another volunteer shared that they decided to be a Crisis Line Responder when they retired because they were looking for something to do that was positive and had good energy.
“I have seen family members and friends dealing with mental health and realized that there is still a lot of stigma and I wanted to change that,” they explained. “I start my calls with a thank you to the person calling because I know how hard it is for them to call and I am genuinely grateful that they did. Then I listen. That is the biggest thing. We all just want to be listened to.”
“The callers feel gratitude but honestly, there is a lot of gratitude both ways in this job,” continued the Responder. “If you can see it, it’s there. I recently had a call on the National Suicide Line where I really felt we made a good connection. It was incredible that they phoned. We were able to connect on a certain level and we both got a lot out of the call. They felt quite a bit better after the call and I felt that they weren’t at risk anymore. It made me feel good.”
Thank you to all of the amazing humans that answer the Crisis Line calls. And giant THANK YOUs to the humans making the calls! You matter and you are valued and we are deeply grateful for the opportunity to listen to you and to help you find your center again by sharing your thoughts, feelings and worries.
If you or someone you is struggling, call or text the Crisis Line. We are here for you by phone 24/7 at 1-888-353-2273 and by text to 45645 between 1 -9 pm PST.
Dorothee Birker is the communications and development coordinator for KCR Community Resources. If you are interested in sharing your volunteer or organizational news, please contact Dorothee at firstname.lastname@example.org.