Crisis Hotline from a Volunteer’s Perspective
If you telephone the Bay Area Women’s Center on a Friday morning, chances are that you will be hearing Roger Soule’s voice answering your call. Roger is a volunteer in a vital role at the center.
“I know how busy workers get and I thought I could alleviate some of the pressure by helping answer the phones,” explains Roger, who worked for the State of Michigan for 36 years. Before his retirement, Roger ran the child welfare programs in Saginaw County.
Roger knew he wanted to do something different in retirement, but still close to what he knows. He enjoys his Friday mornings at the center. “I like the people. The job is not hard, you just have to learn it and keep up with it. You get trained,” he says.
Answering what is called the “crisis hotline” can sound intimidating, but anyone can do it, Roger believes. They just have to be willing to go through the training and put themselves out there for other people.
“All you need is to be pleasant to people and answer the phone. Everything else you can be trained in,” Roger says. “It helps to be able to remain calm about things. People need understanding when they call us.” Roger says that volunteers need to remember that they are not responsible for the caller’s problems. “I don’t own it, all I can do is assist them,” he explains.
People call in all different types of crisis situations. One woman called for help because she had been living in her car for the past two weeks. She was not a victim of violence, so she did not fit the criteria for BAWC, however, Roger was able to refer her to local homeless shelters.
If someone is thinking about going into social work, this is a good way to dabble in the field. For others interested in helping people, there is no better way than this.
Crisis office volunteer duties include:
Completing forms, such as requests for bus passes, child care, shelter intake
Providing clients with personal needs items, such as shampoo, soap, toothbrush, etc.
Distributing mail to clients
Accepting donations from organizations and individuals
Sister Maria Beckman, O.P.
Long Time Volunteer and Board Member
Sister Maria Beckman has a true passion for peace, an incredible sense of humor and is a longtime advocate of the Bay Area Women’s Center. She has served on the board of directors for over ten years.
As part of the Grand Rapids Dominicans, Sister Maria served the Church as a teacher, principal, director of religious education, pastoral associate and pastor. “After 50 years of church ministry, I knew that I must do something to make a difference for women and children,” explained Sister Maria. “I had some training in non-violence. I began to get involved in our Bay Area Women’s Center.”
Sister Maria has been involved in everything at the center from participating in awareness marches, to planting trees and flowers on the grounds. She is also committed to getting young people involved in the organization.
As a vocal supporter of the Bay Area Women’s Center, Sister Maria is actively reaching out to local organizations and churches to share the mission of the organization – to eliminate domestic and sexual violence. “You can always find me with friends trying to break this cycle of violence,” she proudly states.
As a member of the fund development committee, Sister Maria is often seeking contributions or promoting the center’s bread sale. “Fund development is important to me to keep our residence running smoothly,” says Sister Maria. “This is a good way to get our story out to the publics and get more involvement.”
“My car knows its way in delivering food, clothing, books and funds to this shelter,” Sister Maria says. “In these tough times I feel it is important to walk with our women and children to make a difference.”