Tuesday, November 28, 2000 Volume 66, Issue 69



Staff Editorial


Ed De La Garza                        Miriam A. Garcia                       Brandon Moeller 
Jim Parsons                              Shaun Salnave


Crisis Hotline in crisis

The Houston Crisis Hotline (713-HOTLINE) is running short of volunteers.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the Hotline was started in 1970 and was one of the first in the country, originally intended to deal mainly with drug-related problems.

If your friend's overdosing, who can you call? Not the police, because they'll arrest him, and not the hospital, because it might call the police. These concerns are what pushed the founding of the Hotline.

But it has expanded from its one-sheet list of organizations to call with these problems, and, through the United Way, now has a list of 6,000 organizations that deal with all sorts of situations, including suicide and domestic problems.

In 1990, the Hotline added two new lines, a Spanish Hotline, and a Teenline (available online at www.teenlink-houston.org).

The Hotline, which has received 2 million calls in its 30 years of operation and currently receives 125 calls a day, may have a crisis of its own -- too few people to answer the phone.

The Hotline is entirely volunteer-driven, and hasn't had to pay people to answer the phones for it. However, that may be what it has to do, if it doesn't get more volunteers.

No one wants to call a crisis hotline and receive a busy signal, but the Hotline and Teenline have only 150 volunteers combined, when the Hotline by itself ideally needs 200.

Volunteers at the service go through intensive training -- 53 hours of it: 33 in the classroom and then 20 of role-playing -- to prepare them for their four-hour shifts.

The holiday season is especially troubling for many people, and the Hotline can probably count on its number of calls to increase before the year is out.

For those without their own crises to deal with, volunteering is a great way to spread some of the holiday spirit. What better way than to help save someone's life with a four-hour shift at the Crisis Hotline?

Even if you can't volunteer there, however, consider giving your time to some other group and helping out those who need it this winter break.

A few hours can make a difference in a lot of places, like soup kitchens and homeless shelters. A database of volunteer opportunities in Houston is available online at www.volunteerhouston.org/volunteer/default.htm.

Give a little bit of your time, and help out those less fortunate than yourself. You might be surprised what a difference it can make to other people and you.

To contact the Opinon Section Editor, send e-mail to dccampus@mail.uh.edu

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