For more than 34 years, one organization has provided a network of people and services to aid people in the community during a time of crisis.
Formerly known as the Telephone Counseling & Referral Service, 2-1-1, Big Bend changed its name on February 11 of last year in compliance with the nationwide initiative to exclusively designate the three-digit dialing code to the hotline service.
According to the organization’s newsletter, Dialog, the number of calls has increased by 20 percent since the launch of the new moniker. Thus, creating a demand for more volunteers.
“It’s important to have more volunteers because we are a non-profit and we can never have enough staff to answer all the calls,” said Carrie Tyree, the volunteer coordinator of 2-1-1 Big Bend.
The 24-hour hotline service receives at least 400 calls a day.
Due to the surplus of volunteers from Florida State University, Tyree is reaching out to Rattlers.
Most of our volunteers are students from FSU and I’ve been trying to recruit students from Florida A&M University, she said.
Tyree said various opportunities are available to Big Bend volunteers .
“We offer internships and work-study programs,” Tyree said.
Once a psychology student herself, Tyree became a volunteer to gain experience .
“It’s the only way you can do counseling without a degree,” she said.
A volunteer from FSU, whose name was omitted for confidential purposes, agreed.
The 22-year-old psychology student said counseling for the hotline is “the closest thing I can get to psychology although I can’t give advice.”
The volunteer also said “the best thing about the agency is knowing that you are the one person in the world to listen to that person.”
The non-profit agency boasts five hotlines, of which three including the breast and cervical cancer hotline, the parent hotline and the Florida HIV-AIDS hotline, are statewide.
Volunteers are trained to answer the local helpline 2-1-1, which is comprehensive.
“We take any kind of call that anybody might think is a crisis,” Tyree said.
Free training will be held Sept. 2 from 7 p.m. to 9:30p.m. at the Bellamy building at FSU.
Sessions will continue every Tuesday and Thursday until Nov. 16.
Tyree advises anyone who is interested to bring in the names and contact information of two personal or professional references.
Applicants will be interviewed at the first training session.
Tyree said empathy is the only requirement for those who want to volunteer.
“We can train them to do anything to answer the phone, but we can’t train them to be empathetic,” she said.
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