Tahlequah Daily Press

October 27, 2013

Hotline training aids HIC mission

Special Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Volunteers are the lifeblood of organizations like Help-In-Crisis.

An important aspect of their effective contribution includes training to handle some situations that might be difficult.

Several times a year, training is offered in the different responsibilities of Help-In-Crisis volunteering.

Rhonda Harbaugh recently completed crisis hotline training because she wanted to give back to her community and was tired of sitting home.

“This seemed like the thing for me to do,” Harbaugh said. “They help women.”

Three mornings a week, she welcomes visitors and staff from the front desk and answers the telephone.

“They train well and taught me a lot I didn’t know about sexual assault and domestic abuse, and made me aware of how many women are violated,” said Harbaugh.

After completing 60 volunteer hours on the hotline, she looks forward to field work.

“I want to actually go out on the scene and help women get where they’re safe,” Harbaugh said.

Elizabeth Guthrie. HIC volunteer coordinator, loves informing people about the work they do and why they do it.

“I love that I get the opportunity to work with people who are dedicated to ending violence and recruiting others to join us in our mission,” Guthrie said. “I love that I have the opportunity to alleviate some of the work here by recruiting and managing volunteers on the hotline and with after-hours advocacy that would otherwise be the responsibility of the staff.”

Without volunteers, the staff would be responsible for the 24-hour crisis line and all domestic violence and sexual assault services they offer.

Training opportunities include the basic hotline training, which is required to participate in any other training. They offer domestic violence advocacy and sexual assault advocacy training. Each training requires an in-depth understanding of job duties and requirements because they don’t want to put volunteers in a situation, whether on the phone or in person, where they are unsure what to say or what to do.

“We want our volunteers to be confident and knowledgeable so the person they are working with will feel empowered and safe. It is for those reasons that we have several sessions for hotline training and training sessions programmed to highlight advocacy techniques in the field,” said Guthrie.

Currently they are in need of hotline volunteers and advocates. As a hotline volunteer they ask for one night a month for one year of service.

They have volunteers who have been on the hotline once a month for over 20 years.

“It is not inconvenient, because the line is transferred to your home or cell phone,” she said.

Hotline training is scheduled and anyone who is interested can jump right in.

“We are very flexible and can make up any sessions that have been missed, though we ask those who are interested to try and make it to the scheduled times and days” said Guthrie.

The dates for this hotline training are Oct. 28-29, and Nov. 4, 5, 11 and 12. Sessions run from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Drinks and snacks are offered at each training and all days are required for certification.

“It may seem like a lot, but believe me, you do not want to miss any of the information we provide. We want you to be prepared and knowledge is the key when on the hotline,” she said.

Each of these individuals have their own reasons for helping Help-In-Crisis, she said.

“Some were touched by these issues as children, some as adults, some know someone who has been a victim, some see the ripple effect and know this is not what they want for their community. Each of these people make up Help-In-Crisis and we could not do the work we do without each one of them,” Guthrie said.

Online exclusive

To find out more about the history of Help-In-Crisis and volunteer opportunities, go to www.tahlequahTDP.com