Standing Together Against Rape is offering a crisis line responder training from April 27 through May 12.
The session takes a total of 40 hours and prepares volunteers to answer the statewide STAR crisis line. Staff members answer the line during regular hours; volunteers cover shifts from the comfort of their own home during the evening, weekend and holiday hours.
The line often serves as the first point of contact for sexual assault survivors. It provides callers with the opportunity to speak confidentially to someone about their assault.
Common calls on the crisis line include information about medical issues, explanations of the criminal justice system as well as information for family and friends of survivors.
STAR volunteer coordinator Ariel Eveland oversees and facilitates the responder training.
“Our humble beginnings actually started with the crisis line,” Eveland said. “It’s the foundation of STAR.”
The organization was founded over 40 years ago by two women answering the phone calls of sexual assault survivors in their basement. Now, the line has developed into a 24-hour crisis intervention agency that relies on more than 500 volunteer hours per month.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into the services that we provide here and we really wouldn’t be able to do the work we’re doing without the help of volunteers. And a big piece of that is manning the crisis line,” Eveland said.
Forty volunteers currently work for the organization. The number of incoming calls varies per day.
“The line is utilized by our community all the time. Some days, there will be no calls, and some days there will be calls every 10 minutes or so,” Eveland said. “For our last fiscal year, 2016-2017, we responded to over 2,000 calls.”
Once people successfully complete the training, they commit to one calendar year of answering the crisis line. STAR requires their volunteers to take a minimum of three shifts per month; these shifts can either be taken back to back or spread out throughout the month.
The varying shifts throughout the day also suit different people’s schedules, Eveland said.
“[For] students who are pursuing a major in social work, psychology, anything along those lines, this is definitely a really great and unique volunteering opportunity,” Eveland said. “The hours that they go through with the training and the commitment to the crisis line is really valuable hands-on experience.”
Bridget Coffou, prevention educator for UAA’s Office of Equity and Compliance, encourages students to attend the responder training.
“Not only will students be providing a much-needed service to members of our community, but you learn a lot of valuable and transferable skills in crisis line training,” Coffou said.
For the training, STAR brings in guest speakers from other organizations and institutions, including Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis, Identity Alaska and the UAA Title IX office.
“I’ve worked with folks from STAR quite a bit this year. I am part of their crisis line training and I’ve given a Title IX training to their full-time advocates;” Coffou said. “As we continue to build this office, we will continue to build our relationship with STAR.”
Several people from the Anchorage community have already shown interest in the training.
Sarah Glaser became familiar with the volunteer training through a former roommate who used to volunteer for the hotline every Thursday night from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
“She answered a lot of important calls,” Glaser said. “Having a crisis hotline is very important and I’ve seen how the need is very real.”
STAR is offering their crisis line responder training twice per year. Those interested in attending are required to complete a volunteer application.
More information about the event and the application form can be found on staralaska.com.