I’m an Iowa City native, a Social Work graduate student, and about to become a mom for the first time. I’ve been working on the Crisis Chat at The Crisis Center for about a year and I’m planning to be here for life!
The Crisis Chat works just like Facebook Messenger or texting, but you’re talking with complete strangers from all over the country about the things that are most urgent and sensitive in their lives—new love, breakups, big moves, bad grades, new jobs, addiction, sobriety, suicide, birth, illness, and health.
As a student of social work and a regular human being in the world, I’ve gotten to know a lot of people in crisis and I know how hard it can be to find an empathetic listener in the moment when it matters most.
There are all kinds of obstacles to reaching out when you’re in pain—the risk of exposure and judgment, cost, time constraints, geographic isolation. Crisis Chat is available to people of any age, living anywhere, at any time.
This work is personal and intense. I can’t think of another volunteer position that trusts you to communicate so closely with clients. Sometimes I feel like this should be a mandatory experience for anyone hoping to enter any profession. My own long-term goal is to provide counseling in a community-based or nonprofit setting and I already know I’ll look back on this volunteer experience as a particularly valuable part of my preparation for that work.
It’s intense, but that shouldn’t intimidate you. The Crisis Center offers a thorough (and truly never boring) training program. You end up with a very practical yet flexible framework for handling chats. Once you’re on the job, the supervisory staff is always there to help you through difficult chats and to debrief afterward. You’re never stranded alone in a chat you aren’t sure how to handle.
Plus, the people in the call room are fun, you can wear your weirdest outfit to your shift if you want to, and there are always snacks! This is not one of those volunteer jobs where you end up just stuffing envelopes (also important) or waiting in a corner for someone to invent something for you to do.
This is an always-engaging opportunity to offer genuine, immersive conversation to people who really need it and, in turn, to learn about other people’s lives.
– Elizabeth Marilla-Kapp
24-Hour Crisis Line and Crisis Chat volunteer requirements
- Complete application
- Age 18 or older
- Complete crisis intervention training on either Monday or Thursday nights
- Commit to a weekly 3-hour shift for at least 9 months
Crisis Intervention Training Dates
Volunteers participating in spring 2018 training must attend Monday OR Thursday from 6 – 9:30 p.m. Training begins Monday, Feb. 26 or Thursday, March 1.
|Monday (6 – 9:30 p.m.)||Thursday (6 – 9:30 p.m.)|
|Feb. 26||March 1|
|March 5||March 8|
|March 12 NO TRAINING||March 15 NO TRAINING|
|March 19||March 22|
|March 26||March 29|
|April 2||April 5|
|April 9||April 12|
|April 16||April 19|
|April 23||April 26|
|April 30||May 3|