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Volunteers Help People in Crisis

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MEDFORD, Ore. — Lezley Sanders answers the phone at the Community Works Crisis Helpline, “Good morning, Helpline.” She has been a volunteer at Helpline for the past 16 years. “I think one little thing that I can do is answer a phone at a crisis line, we all have time to do that.”

The Crisis Helpline specializes in taking calls from domestic and sexual assault survivors 24 hours a day, however, they also receive calls from people in all types of emergency or crisis situations.

“We never know what’s going to go on during the day. You could pick up the phone and hear gunshots, or you could pick up the phone and hear somebody crying,” said Sanders. “I’ve been doing this for so long, and why is that? It’s because I’ve learned to take care of myself. I think of it almost like a cup, and pouring it out and then filling it back up again. So, if I fill it up again with self-care, then I have plenty to pour out and share with the community and others that need it,” concluded Sanders.

Kim Caplan, is the Volunteer Coordinator at Community Works and is responsible for appointing and training volunteers. “We receive about 9,000 calls per year, and 80 percent of those are covered by volunteers,” said Caplan. “We really depend on our volunteers and so we’re always welcoming and encouraging new people to come volunteer with us, because we couldn’t have our Helpline if we didn’t have our volunteers.”

Sanders has a history of working at different organizations, including Planned Parenthood, that work with people in crisis or who are in need of help. She also runs a support group for sexual assault survivors in Jackson County.

Sanders advises that to be a volunteer at Helpline isn’t about having all the answers to people problems, it’s more about being able to listen and support the people who call in. “Doing their little part in just listening to somebody in crisis can make a world of difference in that person’s day,” said Sanders. “They don’t have anybody else to talk to and that’s why they’re calling here.”

If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering with Helpline, you can find more information on Community Work’s website at community-works.org.