Serving as an AmeriCorps volunteer at Switchboard of Miami has enabled me to do much more than simply serve my community. As a Helpline Counselor for the National Suicide Hotline, I have been given the privilege to help save the lives of those not only in the United States, but also in Canada and Puerto Rico. During my service I have discovered how powerful compassion can be. Often times I find the caller just needs to feel connected to another human being; for someone to care about them. My job allows me to be that person, that difference, every single day I serve. For that I am blessed.
One call strikes me in particular. After building rapport with a client on a suicide call, she asked me a personal question. She wanted to know why I had chosen to get involved with a suicide hotline. After reflecting, I simply answered: “Because I care; because I care about you.” The client was touched by my response and stated that I had helped her to see that compassion does exist in this world. At the end of the call she thanked me profusely for making a difference in her life; for saving her life.
About Switchboard of Miami
Switchboard of Miami’s AmeriCorps program addresses human service needs by counseling, connecting and empowering people in need. Through suicide prevention programs, an information and referral contact center, and crisis counseling and wellness services, Switchboard serves as both a first point of assistance and a last resource for people in need. Switchboard houses Miami-Dade county’s most comprehensive social services community database with over 5,000 service partnerships (community organizations and government agencies) which forms a single point of service where citizens call to obtain information and receive referrals to organizations providing housing, food and access to health care. These services are provided confidentially, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year, without judgment and without cost. Last year, AmeriCorps Helpline Counselors answered over 36,000 calls and are on track to exceed that number this year. AmeriCorps Community Involvement & Outreach Specialists have also helped strengthen Switchboard’s presence in the community by representing Switchboard at local events and meetings to help educate the public about the organization’s programs and services.