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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

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Clinic in crisis
Clinic in crisis
Volunteer recruitment at one of the nation's oldest crisis phone lines - Seattle's Crisis Clinic - is down for the second year straight

Crisis Clinic is sending out an urgent call for volunteers. Unpaid phone workers have helped keep the crisis phone line open continuously since 1964, but new recruits have dropped off the last two years. "It is a commitment," says Don Kuch, Clinical Director, "fifty-five hours of training, one four-hour shift each week for a year. I think a lot of volunteers these days are looking for shorter-term gigs." Last year, the organization missed its recruitment goal by 25 percent. This year, only half the needed volunteers have completed training. The work isn't easy. In a typical four-hour shift, a Clinic volunteer may speak with a suicidal caller, someone looking for emergency mental health care, a bereaved relative who's lost a loved one, or a schizophrenic suffering delusions. "We're really at the heart of the community safety net," says Kathleen Southwick, Executive Director, "it's a stressful job, but we make sure volunteers have a enough emotional support to hear what they hear on the line." Currently, 200 volunteers staff the phones, overseen by supervisors with advanced degrees and experience in the mental health field. The Clinic is hoping to fill another 20 volunteer slots by early 2008.

Those interested in volunteering can call 206.461.3210 extension 611 or log on to www.CrisisClinic.org.

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