A 24/7 Lifeline To Hope

By Jeremy Park

Last week we discussed tnAchieves, which is an initiative focused on increasing higher education opportunities for Tennessee students by providing last-dollar scholarships with mentor guidance. This week let us spotlight a volunteer-powered agency serving as an emotional lifeline through compassionate, non-biased, 24-hour live telephone support: the Memphis Crisis Center.

Founded in 1970, the Memphis Crisis Center has grown from the vision of a few caring doctors to a full-service, 24/7 lifeline for those in need of a caring ear or support in times of crisis and distress. Trained volunteers – using a combination of empathetic listening, risk assessment, and crisis intervention – assist callers with immediate issues and link them with the long-term resources they need to cope and overcome them. As a United Way agency and partner with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, the Memphis Crisis Center’s services are free of cost, 100 percent secure, and always totally confidential.

Their 24-hour lifeline, 901-CRISIS-7 (901-274-7477), is the first place our citizens can turn when things seem out of control. Having a confidential, trained volunteer at the other end of the line who is listening compassionately without judging, while talking through the hurt to find a solution helps make the difference between life and death for hundreds of Memphians each year. The Crisis Center averages more than 14,000 calls per year with approximately 550 related to suicide. Typical call topics cover a wide spectrum, including alcohol and drug abuse, gambling, feeling helpless, domestic violence, depression, sexual assault, relationship issues, bullying, unemployment, pregnancy and suicidal thoughts.

The Memphis Crisis Center also operates Call4Kids, SeniorBSafe (a partnership with Crimestoppers), and an HIV Care Hotline. Call4Kids and SeniorBSafe run through the 274-7477 hotline. Call4Kids is designed to handle calls where one knows or suspects a child’s safety is at risk. SeniorBSafe is for seniors who might feel trapped in their own home, suspect criminal activity, or feel unsafe and do not know who to trust. For those needing information about living with HIV/AIDS, the Crisis Center operates 1-877-HIV-KNOW. The Crisis Center also offers free suicide awareness and prevention workshops to community groups and schools.

Personally knowing someone who called the Memphis Crisis Center after losing a loved one and facing overwhelming change in his life, I have seen firsthand the way it can lift Memphians up and give them hope. With the economy still sluggish and many in our community facing depression with lost jobs, now is the perfect time for us to step up and help by volunteering. They have a full training program for those interested in serving and it is a wonderful opportunity to give back. It is a powerful thing to know you helped a senior, protected a child, and saved a life!

Learn more at www.MemphisCrisisCenter.org. Contact volunteers@crisis7.org or 649-8572 for volunteer opportunities.

Jeremy Park, director of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, www.lpbreakfastclub.com, can be reached at jeremyp@lpinsurance.com or followed on Twitter at @lpbreakfastclub or @jeremycpark.