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Hotline volunteers needed at Women’s Support Services

SHARON—Women’s Support Services is working hard to combat domestic violence in the community by providing counseling services, advocates for victims in criminal courts, community education outreach programs, support groups and a 24-hour crisis hotline. The organization relies on volunteers in all areas and in particular, is in need of additional hotline volunteers. Individuals interested in volunteering for at least one year with the crisis hotline must complete a 25-hour intensive training course to become a Certified Battered Women’s Crisis Counselor. The course teaches specific crisis intervention techniques and counseling skills rooted in the philosophy that WSS adult victim’s counselor, Liz Davis, described as “women-defined advocacy.” This philosophy has defined the organization’s mission “to provide education and options. If we have education and options to give someone, we’ve done our job,” Davis said. There are currently approximately 30 volunteers with the organization, and the goal is to increase the hotline team by 10 to 20 people, as it is crucial to provide coverage 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.Crisis hotline calls are directed to volunteers via an answering service and volunteers may receive calls from any location. The identities of both victims and volunteers are legally protected by a confidentiality statute, which the organization firmly abides by throughout all of its services. Addressing the fact that individuals may be fearful and reluctant to take on the responsibility of answering calls, Davis stressed that the hotline volunteers “really are a team. They’re not out there alone.” The team has formed a “buddy system” and members are encouraged to help each other and provide additional support to new volunteers. If someone is unable to answer a call or unsure of how to handle a particular situation, there is extensive backup of other volunteers and WSS staff members. As Davis said, “volunteers always have access to myself and other staff. I’m always available to help with a call.” WSS offers services to both male and female victims of domestic violence. Anyone in danger can anonymously call the 24-hour hotline at (860) 364-1900. For additional information and options for both victims and volunteers, go to the WSS website at www.wssdv.org/home. The upcoming training course will be held Sept. 1, 8, 10, 15, 17 and 22. Prospective volunteers should call the WSS office at 860-364-1080 for registration information.

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