March 30, 2012

What keeps you going?

Posted in General Information tagged , , at 4:07 pm by Every Cent Counts

I started out seven years ago as a volunteer at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. I was referred to this organization, by a professor as a way to gain experience in the mental health field. I had no idea this organization would change my life.

I spent a few years volunteering on their crisis hotline in my free time between back to back classes and volunteering my services at other agencies throughout the Tampa bay area. When I moved on to graduate school, I realized I would have to cut back on the amount of volunteering I was partaking in, so I chose the one agency that gave me a sense that I was truly making a difference. I mean where else can you answer a call from a woman desperately trying to figure out her options in order to get out of a domestic violence situation, or talk a man off the side of a bridge by reminding him of his reasons for living?

As time went on, I was presented with the opportunity to move from volunteer to employee. Once an employee, I became more aware of the various ways in which the Crisis Center impacts the community. Whether it is our 24 hour ambulance services (Transcare), our Sexual Assault Services (which conduct the majority of the rape exams and advocacy for victims in Hillsborough county), our Trauma Recovery Services (which provides low cost counseling to children, families, and adults coping with past trauma), our Family Stabilization program that reaches out to families that have fallen behind on a utility or rent payment and need help getting caught up, or our 211 and Suicide Prevention Service, which provides 24 hour crisis counseling over the phone.

I realized I wanted to do more, and I became a Suicide Prevention Care Coordinator. I was tasked with calling clients at their most desperate of times, and making sure that they were doing well, and getting access to the services they need. I helped them overcome roadblocks, that seem monumental to someone in crisis. I reached out to the community and provided presentations, informing them of suicide and its warning signs.

I then made the move to the 211 Call Center Supervisor. I would provide trainings to new staff and volunteers eager to make a difference. I attended conferences to hone my own skills, and continue to develop best practices with other agencies within the nation. I even helped bring in our newest way of helping, Crisis Chat. However, I found myself wishing I could see the difference I was making in people’s lives. I knew I was helping, but rarely did people come back and thank you.

An opportunity presented itself to help develop and run a new program within the Crisis Center. The Every Cent Counts program. This program would reach out to those in the community who could not find assistance anywhere else. These people had come across hard times and needed a helping hand to get back on their feet. Through partnerships with local community businesses we would be able to provide these clients with direct services to fulfill their needs. Best of all every cent that was donated to these clients would be given directly to the client. Now this was a program where I would be able to see the impact I was having on people’s lives.

I jumped on this opportunity, and there is not a single day that I regret my decision. I love what I do, and I believe in the cause. I am out there every day, spreading the word, recruiting clients, donors, sponsors, and vendors. But it is only with your help, people that donate to these clients and help them fulfill their needs that I am able to complete my job. Those are my best days, the days when I call a client and let them know their need has been funded and they will receive the assistance they so desperately need.

So now I ask you, what is it that keeps you going? What makes you get up everyday and keep fighting? Or like I used to ask my callers in crisis, what is your reason for living?

If you would like to know more about the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay visit their website at www.crisiscenter.com

You can also visit www.everycentcounts.org to see our current clients and help fulfill a need today!

 

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2 Comments »

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