A Day in the Life of a Hotline Volunteer

By Maddy Miller, Centre Helps Hotline Volunteer


When I tell people about my volunteering, they are always interested by the word “hotline” and what this actually entails. How intense are the calls? Are all of the calls emergencies? What type of call do we most frequently receive? Most of the time, people who don’t know about the hotline assume that all the calls we receive are very similar. However, this is not the case. At Centre Helps, we receive a wide range of calls — from basic needs, to suicide. There really is no problem too small, or too large, that we can’t handle.

Our counselors have all gone through the same 180 hours of training in order to be qualified to work on the hotline. The training classes are a true commitment, with 8+ hours a week spent on learning the material. New hotline staff are never left alone for their first couple weeks on the phone, to ensure that they are comfortable with our policies and procedures.

To elaborate more on our services, I have provided a list of the typical categories of calls we receive and their subcategories:

(Please note that if a specific service is not listed, we still encourage you to call).

  • Basic Needs Calls

    • Rent Assistance, Mortgage Assistance, Housing, Shelter, Budgeting, Food Bank, Food Services Information, Fuel Assistance, Electric Assistance, Water/Sewage

  • Family/Household Needs Calls

    • Pregnancy/Baby Resources, Condoms, Child Care Options, Chore Assistance, Home Repair/Weatherization, Clothing, Furniture/Household Items

  • Mental/Emotional Health Related Calls

    • General Counseling, General Therapy Options, Mental/Emotional Support Group Information

  • Crisis Calls

    • Suicide Intervention, Homicide Intervention

  • Substance Abuse/Drug Related Calls

    • Drug Information/Pill ID, Rehab/Detox Options, Drug and Alcohol Therapy Options, Drug and Alcohol Related Support Group Information, Drug and Alcohol Counseling

  • Medical Calls

    • Help locating/securing a Doctor/Dentist/Specialist/Medical Help, Prescription Assistance, Insurance Information, Medical Related Support Group Information

  • Legal Assistance Calls

    • Help finding a lawyer or attorney

  • Employment Assistance

    • Help finding Employment, Help finding Training/Support for Employment

A typical day on the hotline consists of a relatively steady pace of calls, but I can’t say which calls we receive on which days, because this is always changing. There are some days on the hotline where my entire shift consists of helping with rent, electric, gas, food, etc. There are other days where the majority of my calls are general counseling calls and I’m helping someone talk through their anxiety, depression, family issues, etc. There are also the days that we get suicide calls, and these are the times that where we exercise the training we received from the National Suicide Hotline, and take every measure we can to save a life.

The work we do on the hotline is immensely rewarding. The ability to turn someone’s day around through a phone call is powerful, and we are proud to provide this resource. Sometimes, all we need is someone to talk to, a referral for help, or a lending hand, and Centre Helps is here to provide this for our community. If you or someone you know is struggling, give Centre Helps a call. Any problem, any time.

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