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VOLUNTEER OVERVIEW

Volunteers are the heart of our agency and have been from its inception. Contact Community Services began in 1971 as a 24-hour telephone counseling and crisis hotline staffed entirely by volunteers. Today we have approximately 60 valued volunteers who continue to play and an integral role in our TeleCare and Contact Hotline programs.

TeleCare is a free telephone reassurance program which provides a regular connection to isolated and vulnerable members of our community. Volunteers make outbound calls to enrolled clients and provide medication reminders, welfare checks, and social visits. Once volunteers are trained on TeleCare they have the opportunity to be cross trained on the Contact Hotline.
 
The Contact Hotline is a safe place to talk. It provides free, confidential, 24-hour service for anyone who is depressed, in crisis, going through a hard time, thinking about suicide, or just needs to hear a caring voice. Most calls are not suicide-related.

VOLUNTEER FUNCTIONS AND REQUIREMENTS          

Essential volunteer functions
-Support clients by exhibiting strong active listening skills
-Maintain client and colleague confidentiality
-Attended required basic and advanced trainings
-Participate in other continuing education opportunities as offered

Volunteer requirements
-Must be reliable and have a sincere desire to help others
-Must show respect and compassion for people affected by mental health conditions and life challenges
-Comfort using a computer and telephone
-Ability to complete basic training
-Commit to at least three 4-hour shifts per month for the first six months, and then two 4-hours of service per month thereafter
-Attend twice per year volunteer advanced trainings
-Commit to 12 months of service

VOLUNTEER TRAINING

TeleCare training
Training to make TeleCare calls is 4-hours and can be done in a single day. It includes shadowing, one-on-one instruction to gain familiarity with active listening and the computer and phone, and making calls under the guidance of a trainer. Once ready to take calls, volunteers continue to be supported by staff during their shifts.

Hotline training
After a volunteer is comfortable with TeleCare, they can choose to be cross trained on the Hotline. Our 40 hour Hotline training curriculum instills the skills and confidence needed to successfully support clients who present with a wide range of life challenges and issues. On average, it takes a trainee two months to complete their Hotline basic training. During this time they are still able to sign up for TeleCare shifts.

Components of Hotline basic training include:
-Orientation
-Observation
-Self-guided training modules
-Individualized or small group instruction and role plays
-Apprenticing

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