By RENEE FITE
Help-In-Crisis was organized in 1979 in response to the problems of domestic violence and sexual assault in rural northeastern Oklahoma, specifically Adair, Cherokee, Sequoyah and Wagoner counties. As a result of a needs assessment conducted by Linda Axley (an intern at the Cherokee County Health Department) and a group of interested and concerned community individuals, services were initiated. Many area professionals offered their assistance as support professionals, including church organizations, legal services, attorneys and volunteers.
By October 1980, Help-In-Crisis became a reality with the formation of the Board of Directors. The organization at this time was fully staffed by volunteers and funded by donations from the community.
As our past director Deana Franke said, “In the past 33 years we have grown from a telephone in the back of the fire station to an agency that covers four counties.”
"We provide a range of services all focused on our mission to eliminate domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse in our communities. The Board, the Staff and the Volunteers of Help-In-Crisis are very special people, they not only see what can be, they work daily to make it happen for people they don’t even know. As we continue our efforts, we remain committed to the hope that someday all families will be places of safety, security and strength. Until that day we stand beside those who flee in the night. With a servant’s heart we seek justice for them and their children."
Depending on which area of the agency a person volunteers will determine how often they can volunteer. If Encore is where a person would like to lend a helping hand then they can volunteer when the store is open. Hotline volunteers can help any day at any hour. The shelter is dependent upon the volunteers schedule and when they are available because the shelter is open around the clock just like the hotline.
“If a person is interested in volunteering, they need only to come in and apply. I will do a short interview to determine which area of the agency they want to dedicate their volunteer time in and get them set up with all of the necessary information they will need,” said Guthrie.
Several people regularly volunteer at Encore but with the changing of the season and more donations coming in everyday they need more. Groups are always welcome to volunteer at Encore and no prior notice is necessary. The hotline currently has roughly 20 volunteers, it changes a little month to month. They have 39 shifts to fill each month, more on holidays, so their dedicated staff volunteer their time to fill in the gaps.
“Ideally, and my goal since I began working at HIC, is to have no staff members on the hotline and to be able to find dedicated and reliable volunteers within our community,” she said.