“Connecting people in moments that matter” was the theme at HelpLine of Delaware and Morrow Counties annual meeting last Tuesday.
Keynote speaker was Delaware Dempsey Middle School Intervention Instructor Nicki Wright. Wright spoke with emotion and passion about the connections HelpLine has facilitated in working with her eighth grade students. Dempsey is one of 20 schools in Morrow and Delaware County where HelpLine staff and volunteers teach prevention skills to children and teens against violence, suicide and bullying.
Connections, a program of HelpLine has supported the work Wright does with eighth grade students in career based intervention. These students are often identified as disadvantaged or are challenged academically. She noted with a smile that her eighth grade students are “not always the easiest to work with.”
Wright stressed that making positive connections is most important in working with these youth. She described class projects like the one where her students helped at the Equine Center. Home Depot workers also helped and brought their tools. Wright said this was especially meaningful for boys. For some it was their first opportunity “to get their hands on power tools.” For those without fathers it was a special experience to work with adult men.
Another day they went on a bus to Oak Grove Cemetery where they worked fixing graves that had been vandalized. On the way home several remarked how ‘dumb’ it is to be destructive. Wright is pretty sure it was a good lesson since some of those boys had done some vandalism themselves not that long ago.
Wright also sees that with opportunities for doing good her students are very generous. Often those who don’t have enough food at home are the first to donate food to pantries. Wright thanked HelpLine and Delaware City Schools for their support and cooperation in her Career Based Intervention Program.
HelpLine Executive Director, Sue Hanson highlighted other successful Helpline projects such as Make a Difference Day, which had 700 volunteers last year and received the National Make a Difference Day Award. She challenged the group to grow this year for their event on Oct. 24th.
Other Key HelpLine Statistics were 3,480 middle and high school students who were educated about depression and the risk of suicide; 23,861 callers needs identified; 16,652 referrals provided for getting and giving help; 573 helped with food, shelter, medicine and other emergency needs in collaboration with other community agencies.
16,722 hours of volunteer service was given by Connections referred volunteers that resulted in $358,854 community dollars saved in personnel costs due to volunteers’ time donated. 35 percent of volunteer hours is donated by persons 60 and over.
Recognition was given for volunteers and staff. Leslie Baldwin of Morrow County was honored for 15 years of service as the HelpLine Fiscal Director. Hanson thanked her for her efficiency in working with over one million dollars in grants and funding to ensure that HelpLine funds are used with good stewardship. Jim Rundle, HelpLine’s Clinical Director was also recognized for his dedication of 15 years on the staff.
Sexual Assault Services Director, Nancy Radcliffe presented Kimberly Eckhart with the ‘Volunteer of the Year’ Award for her commitment as a volunteer for Sexual Assault victims.
Hanson presented the Delaware Police Chief and Delaware County Sheriff with the Katherine Gharrity Service Award for their departments’ work. Sheriff Martin in turn recognized HelpLine and its volunteers for their partnership with law enforcement. He noted that they often get calls in the middle of the night for assault victims, suicide risks and housing needs. He appreciates that HelpLine staff and volunteers are always available to be by the side of law enforcement when they are needed.
Founded in 1970, HelpLine is the local 24/7 toll-free crisis, support, and information referral/211 line for residents of Delaware and Morrow Counties. Call 24/7 for LIVE Support 740-369-3316 or 419-947-2520, 1-800-684-2324.
Alberta Stojkovic is a correspondent with the Morrow County Sentinel and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.