News : Orillia-based Telecare Needs Volunteers
June 4, 2014 -- As the region’s sole, round-the-clock distress line prepares to mark a milestone, its executive director is sending out her own call for help.
Celebrating its 35th year in 2014, Telecare Distress Line of Greater Simcoe County is short of the volunteers needed to handle the hundreds of calls it answers each month.
"Last month, we had only 23 active volunteers," said executive director Catherine Blakely.
The non-profit agency, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, needs 35 people to cover all shifts.
"We don’t have enough at the end of the day," said Blakely.
Trained volunteers with the confidential service field calls from clients with a range of concerns, from loneliness and depression to mental health issues and homesickness.
Volunteers listen, while showing compassion and understanding, but do not offer counseling.
Referrals are provided to those who can.
A grant last year from Green Shield Canada enabled Telecare to revamp its training program, which now includes ‘self-directed’ base telephone training supported by mentors.
Hands-on training follows at the call centre.
"Previously we had a 10 or 12-week training program where everybody had to show up and it was only twice a year," Blakely said. "If somebody wanted to volunteer just after our training program, they might have to wait six or eight months to volunteer, so we were losing volunteers."
Volunteers work in a solitary atmosphere, and without the public recognition enjoyed by those who assist with other, more visible, causes.
"It has to be an internal reward," Blakely said. "There is no external award for this kind of work. You don’t get to see a hungry family with a box of food. You don’t get to see a smile on a child’s face when you bring them water in Uganda."
Based out of Orillia and serving a broad region that includes Barrie, the distress line will raise funds to support its work during tag days in the third week of June.
To register for the program, or to volunteer, call the business office.
Blakely is additionally seeking board members.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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