By Deborah Elaine Evans
The United Way agency CONTACT Crawford County is looking for volunteers.
CONTACT is a 24-hour helpline service for people to call for information about services available or just to talk anonymously to someone about issues that are important to them. CONTACT also calls seniors in their homes, daily, to check on their well-being. All services to the public are free.
CONACT officials say a helpline is an asset to any community. Many CONTACT volunteers have served over twenty years at the agency because they see the value of what they do.
“Because our service is 24/7 we get all kinds of calls,” CONTACT Crawford County Director Susan Buzza said. “In order to be prepared for anything, we train our volunteers in active listening. We teach you to listen so that people will know that you care. A good listener can provide a place for the person to let off steam and move back to a place of control.”
Officials say the training prepares volunteers to handle requests for information and understand how services are delivered.
“Volunteers learn about the many options available to people seeking services in this community,” Buzza said. “Our goal is to know which direction to go to find the answers our callers need. Our research has sent us to many areas that are totally unfamiliar to many of us. Understanding the barriers faced by people in poverty or folks challenged with mental illness and addiction is part of knowing how to care for them. I believe one of the greatest benefits of the CONTACT training is being able to join this very special group of caring volunteers.”