CONTACT of Burlington County is in need of crisis helpline volunteers

Since 1972, the non-profit organizations have been tasked with reducing suffering within the county by helping those in need to address emotional, physical and mental issues.

CONTACT of Burlington County is in need of crisis helpline volunteers. Since 1972, the nonprofit organization has been tasked with reducing suffering within the county by helping those in need to address emotional, physical and mental issues. 

Dedicated to meeting the needs of the community, the organization provides confidential crisis helpline support as well as resources, educational programs and related services. With the vast number of calls CONTACT receives daily, the organization is looking to train volunteers. 

“In order to become a volunteer, they would have to go through training,” said Executive Director Theresa Tobey. ”They would be trained on mental health crisis, suicide, the database itself and different situations. A focus in the training is on active listening.

“All of the other things go along with active listening,” Tobey continued. “During the training, volunteers are out in the call center not to take calls, but to get a feel of experienced volunteers. After going through training, volunteers are also evaluated for mental health.” 

According to Tobey, one of the most important aspects of the crisis helpline is active listening. A person’s ability to engage into a conversation, care about an individual and not pass any judgment is key in dealing with serious situations, such as suicide prevention. 

“I saw something that said, ‘do you believe that listening to someone can help prevent a suicide,’ and that’s so true,” said Tobey. “A lot of people that call us don’t have a place or person to turn to, or if they do have that person or family member, they don’t want to talk to them about it.

“The crisis helpline is confidential and anyone can call us,” Tobey continued. “People tend to underestimate the power to have a listening ear and truly listen to someone. For volunteers, they can be totally inexperienced, but if you have a willingness to help and are open to active listening, we can train you.”

CONTACT of Burlington County will be holding a Q&A event on Monday, Sept. 16 at the Moorestown Library located at 111 W. 2nd St. The event will take place between 11 a.m. and noon and will provide information about how to become a volunteer and all that it entails. 

“What we decided to do is this Q&A for people to come in and get a feel of what we do,” said Tobey. “They can ask whatever questions they may have. Some people want to know what it is like on the phones or what the training is like. It’s usually about an hour long. 

“Many people think we give advice and tell people what they should do, but we don’t.” Tobey continued. “We listen to them and figure out what’s wrong together. For people willing to listen, they’ll be amazed at how many people they can help.” 

Those looking for more information about the Q&A at the Moorestown Library or who want to know how to get involved can call (856) 234-5484 extension 101 or e-mail info@contactburlco.org. To learn more about CONTACT, visit www.contactburlco.org.

Those who may have ideas of suicide or need someone to listen can call CONTACT’s crisis helpline at (856) 234-8888 or (866) 234-5006. Those dealing with ideas of suicide can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.