Volunteer Testimonials

What CRISISline has meant to me. by Emily Ammann

I decided to volunteer at CRISISline because I wanted to be a counselor, and I thought it would be great practice... and I was right. However, I didn't get practice just in counseling but in so much more. I learned so much about people in general. how to offer my talents; opening a door to different kinds of people, with different kinds of needs.  I've learned that counseling is much MUCH more than simply giving advice, but it's about flexibility. I've realized that the true way to help people is to help them help themselves. I am no longer trying to be responsible for others, but I am now rather lending an ear to people who are trying to find their own ways. My time here has been priceless. I have met so many generous people who share their time, knowledge, and peace of mind on a daily basis. I have also gained a new respect for myself and what I can do as a listener, counselor, and caregiver. And it all seems to start by just being here when the phone rings. (From the July/August 2005 Mental Health Association Newsletter)

Words From Jennifer Self, Former Volunteer

After graduating from Furman with a psychology degree, I did not know what I was going to do. I wanted to go to graduate school for clinical psychology, but needed more experience first. When graduation was nearing, I was lucky enough to hear about some overnight positions opening up on the CRISISline, through a friend. I was worried that I would not know enough about interventions to be of any use on a CRISISline, but my friend assured me that the training was quite extensive and encouraged me to apply. I applied for the position, and much to my joy and terror, I got one of the positions. I arrived at training hoping to learn enough to be able to help people in crisis, and I certainly wasn't disappointed! Not only did I learn how to help in a crisis situation, but I learned an amazing amount of basic clinical skills for dealing with all types of situations (not just crises). After a year of working overnights (which was a blast), I was accepted into a Ph.D. program in clinical psychology at Washington State University. Although I was sad to leave the wonderful friends that I had made at Mental Health America of Greenville County, I packed my things and headed to Washington. Although I love my program at WSU, there was honestly not a lot of basic training before we were sent in to see clients. I was so glad that I received such extensive training and experience in active listening, brainstorming and crisis intervention skills on the CRISISline to fall back on! I would highly recommend the CRISISline to anyone who is interested in getting some fantastic experience with clinical work, or anyone who is just looking for a great volunteer activity and a way to do something extremely important in the community.

From Susan Eggleston, Former Volunteer

I was a teacher in the Greenville County System for many years. The last 10 years I had the opportunity to work with the Service Learning Program at a high school. Part of the learning area was to bring in speakers from various organizations in the Greenville area that had need for volunteers and also offered a service that the students might need to know about. One of the organizations that spoke that first year was Mental Health America [of Greenville County]. They were in the process of setting up a Teen Crisis Line. That first class got involved in that program and one student volunteered to work the line. I thought about it for several years, realizing the time commitment involved and finally decided to do the training to work the line. It was one of the most interesting things I was ever involved in as a volunteer. After the training I decided to volunteer one evening a week on the line. It involved 3 to 4 hours every week but it was so worth the time involved. I never worked one time that I did not leave feeling I had made a difference in the life of a client or caller. I encourage anyone interested in volunteering that they investigate this opportunity to serve. I do realize how strapped we all are for time but after a few months  you develop a pattern of saving that time. It becomes very important to each volunteer to be there each week to answer the telephone. I worked the line for approximately 5 years and treasure that opportunity. I feel it opened my eyes to the needs of the community in a way I never thought possible. The other people on the line become good friends as well as co workers. They are a dedicated group of professionals who have the best interest of the community at heart. I do feel that at the end of a shift each worker leaves with a sense of the importance of commitment to community. 

From a Current Volunteer

Everyone deserves to be heard. CRISISline, through MHA of Greenville County, offers a listening ear by trained volunteers/knowledgeable staff providing a service duplicated by no other organization serving our community. A listening ear through active listening skills, crisis intervention, and resources sought is offered when the phone rings and the needs are evident. I have volunteered on the Line for a 4-hour weekly shift over nearly 11 years. Obviously, this service organization is compelling in order to exact such a donation of time, precious to each of us. The training is thorough; the trained volunteer is ready for the Line when training is completed. The staff and other volunteers are authentic, knowledgeable, and fully supportive of volunteers. The atmosphere is one of sincere caring and a sense of family ensues. Most importantly, help for volunteers to best fulfill responsibilities is constant; volunteers are not taken for granted. Callers have needs; volunteers are trained and assisted always. Callers are in a better place upon ending a call. I dare say, volunteers are, as well. Volunteering at CRISISline is a rewarding experience for nowhere else are these services available to our community family, people in need.

As a volunteer of Crisis Intervention Services, and Mental Health America of Greenville County in general, you can gain as much as you give. Mental Health America is committed to providing the best services possible, and our volunteers help us achieve this on a consistent basis. We appreciate our volunteers and the exemplary services they help us provide. Together, we are truly promoting positive mental health for all persons in our community!

From a Former Board Member

I am a 2011 graduate of Furman University, and during my time there I participated in the Shucker Leadership Program. During our junior and senior year, all participants were required to join a board for a non-profit or some other group.  I had never heard of Mental Health America, but the director of SLI told me it would be a good fit for me. I came for an interview, learned the basics of what MHAGC did, and instantly knew that I wanted to be part of this organization.

I recall being very intimidated walking into the first board meeting. I was younger than all other members and honestly had no idea what I was getting into. Fortunately, everybody welcomed me with open arms and I felt right at home. Going in blind, I was unsure of what board meetings entailed. Would we be talking about finances the whole time? Would we go visit the housing sites? I had no idea what to expect. The meeting was very easy to follow along with. We talked about financials, upcoming events, new and old business, and housing updates, nothing too complicated for me to understand. The more often I attended our once-a-month board meetings the more I wanted to get involved with MHA. I learned about all the great programs MHAGC has to offer along with the fundraising events and conferences we hold every year. I also realized the need MHAGC had for volunteers and membership.

Getting involved with the board has been one of the best experiences of my life. Without its involvement I would have never known about this great non-profit and all of the wonderful programs it has to offer. I would have never met the amazing people I have or had the opportunity to intern this summer. Although we have a solid board membership now, we are always looking for more compassionate and driven people to make the board stronger. New members usually join because of a friend or co-worker they know who is presently on the board, or who has been in the past, but you do not need to know someone to become a board member. We want board members who are passionate in the area of mental health, but also will go above and beyond to make the voices of MHAGC heard. We also want creative minds and lively spirits to enhance the programs MHAGC already has in place.

If you are interested in becoming a board member you can contact Jennifer Piver at (864) 467-3344 to set up an interview so we can learn about you, and you can learn about MHAGC. Once the interview is complete, the current board members will vote on welcoming new members at the next upcoming board meeting. From there on you will be welcome to join our once month board meetings on the second Monday of each month at 12 noon. Please consider becoming a board member. MHAGC thrives off the hard work and dedication of its staff, board and volunteers. The more people from the community become involved, the greater MHAGC will become.

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