Vernon Crisis Hotline calls for volunteers

The program is hoping for 12 new volunteers for October training program.

Jackie (not her real name) grew up in Vernon. It’s also where she decided to go to college.

She decided to study Human Services and began her two-year program last fall having been fascinated with psychology and mental health.

After completing a year of her studies, Jackie found out about the volunteer program at Vernon’s crisis hotline — one of five call centres in the interior. She thought it may be a good way to get her “foot in the door” and to get some hands-on experience and practice emotional support.

“Teachers suggested it as a good way to start in the field,” said Jackie. “You know about or hear about the crisis line but you never really think about it being in your own hometown.”

The average volunteer works once a week for about four hours, but they never go in untrained first. It takes about 30 hours of training to be qualified to handle calls on your own — this includes in-class learning, observing calls and role-playing.

“A lot of that is classroom time and then we have some practical time and we make sure our volunteers are confident and comfortable before they take calls on all three lines,” said program coordinator Paula Guidi. “We answer the interior crisis line, we answer 310-mental-health and we answer 1-800-suicide and the last two are both provincial numbers.”

Jackie said she maintains perspective by practising self-care — which is encouraged among the volunteers who staff the three CMHA operated distress lines, (1-888-353-CARE), Mental Health Support Line, and 1-800-SUICIDE. Crisis line volunteers respond to all three.

“We have a great support staff available if you hang up and don’t feel great after a call,” Jackie explained. “But I’ve never taken it home with me.”

Though Jackie is a student, Guidi said that they have volunteers from “all walks of life” including professionals, students and community members who just want to help by giving back to their community. All volunteers and callers remain anonymous.

“It’s super rewarding and even though it seems scary, it’s not that scary because you’ve got so much support,” Jackie added. “A lot of people don’t think they can handle it but I think most people can handle more than they think.”

Jackie is currently one of 30 volunteers working with the crisis line but Guidi said they are looking for about 12 more for the fall. Training begins in October. Guidi said that it’s important that people know how important this work is as they need volunteers 24 hours a day all 365 days a year.

“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for a Crisis Line Worker willing to pick up the phone at 2 a.m. when I didn’t’ think I was worth it,” said one Crisis Line caller who wishes to remain anonymous.“Just by being there, they reminded me that I was.”

Guidi said that even when a caller doesn’t say a word, being someone there to listen when they are ready is what the call line was designed for. Jackie agreed. She affirms that the experience she has gained through the program has been irreplaceable; that even though the reason she volunteered was for, as she puts it, a selfish, career-minded purpose, she found her true passion in knowing she was helping people and making a positive difference in her community.

“When you hear them calm down or hear them say, ‘I feel so much better now that I’ve gotten that out’, it’s just instantly rewarding,” said Jackie. “There aren’t too many times when you get off the phone and think that person didn’t feel better.”

Editor’s Note: Jackie’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity of those associated with the program.

Related: Good Morning Hotline seeks summer volunteers

Related: Vernon Crisis Line seeks volunteers

Related: Vernon crisis line calling for more volunteers

To report a typo, email:
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com
.



Follow me on Twitter @BrieChar
Email me brieanna.charlebois@vernonmorningstar.com
Like us on

Just Posted

WATCH: Vernon ready to wheel out special cycling program

Cycling Without Age aims to give seniors and less-abled bodies free rides on specially made bike

Telus supports second chapter of Vernon reading program

Literacy initiative gains $10,000 boost

‘Mountain high’ sewer rates frustrate Silver Star property owners

Silverhawk Utilities said they are working to address the property owners association’s concerns

Queen Silver Star issues call for Vernon royalty

Applications sought for excellence program from North Okanagan teens

Overdose training challenge picks up in Vernon

Various groups and businesses working to save lives

Temperatures on the rise for the Okanagan Valley

Okanagan-Shuswap weekday weather update

Horvat scores 16 seconds into OT as Canucks beat Blackhawks 3-2

Pettersson sets rookie scoring record for Vancouver

No injuries, pollution in Vancouver Harbour ship collision: Transport Canada

Transportation Safety Board says it has deployed a team of investigators look into the incident

Vernon RCMP officers get their man

Individual arrested in takedown along Alexis Park Drive Monday afternoon

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

New concussion guidelines launched for Canada’s Olympians, Paralympians

The guidelines will be in effect at this summer’s Pan American, Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru

Kelowna DJs organize own shows to fill gap in music scene

The DJs wanted to create somewhere people could enjoy their music safely

In Photos: Classic snowmobiles pushed to their limits in fun races

The Burner in Malakwa served as the venue for races show cases older sleds

Most Read