“It sounds daunting but it’s not,” says Lines for Life volunteer Scott Shoen as he reflects on what it’s like to answer crisis calls. “Every tool you need to do this job, they give you in training.” And Scott should know—he’s been volunteering for five years and has logged over 600 hours of answering the call to provide hope, support, and resources.
Scott, an insurance agent and CPA, is just one of over 150 volunteers working at Lines for Life this year to answer crisis calls, provide hope, and save lives. That’s equal to an extra 22-24 full time employees that are picking up the phone and helping people to safety.
Lines for Life celebrated those volunteers on December 7. The event’s hallmark was a room filled with volunteers and staff engaged in lively conversations and laughter that gave levity to the serious topics that are the daily focus. Reflecting on the event itself and what volunteers are bringing to Lines for Life, Chief Executive Officer Dwight Holton observed, “The energy level is like nothing I’ve ever seen in the three years I’ve been around.”
Volunteers who serve at Lines for Life come from all walks of life and education backgrounds, and they commit to 60 hours of training and one 4-hour shift per week (200 hours per year). Working side by side with staff and supervisors, volunteers use their training about suicide, addictions, mental health, and special populations to help callers discover that they have what they need to move forward and get the help they need to stay alive.
When asked what keeps him coming back, Scott Shoen reflected that “I have the opportunity to maybe help [callers] frame whatever they’ve got going on in a different way. Maybe they see something they didn’t see before. And creating a safety plan gives them a way they can mull that around in their head and wake up another morning.” In many cases, volunteers can relate to those on the other end of the line through shared life experience—veterans talking to veterans, youth talking with their peers.
A significant portion of Lines for Life’s ability to serve so many in crisis is due to dedicated, compassionate individuals who are open to a more in-depth volunteer experience. Given how vital volunteers are to helping Lines for Life meet the demand for crisis line support, it’s no wonder that we’re always looking for new volunteers. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, contact Tracy Reilly at [email protected] or 971-244-4619.