Volunteers play a vital role in SARA’s mission to educate our community and assist and empower people who have experienced sexual violence.
The SARA Hotline serves as an immediate response to survivors of sexual assault and their loved ones at the time the support is needed. No matter how long ago the assault occurred, the SARA hotline provides brief crisis intervention. Hotline volunteers help provide callers with appropriate referrals and resources to empower callers to make their own choices and conduct their own healing process. Hotline Volunteers provide immediate response at times when the office is closed, and act as “triage” when referring callers to other SARA resources.
In order to provide the best service to our clients, there is a mandatory interviewing, reference-checking, and 40-hour training process for all incoming volunteers. SARA Hotline Volunteers MUST be at least 18 years old. Minimum volunteer commitment: 24 Hours/month, which immediately follows completion of training. Potential 4- or 12-hour shift blocks are available when the SARA office is closed (evenings, weekends, and holidays). Hotline volunteers must commit to the Hotline Volunteer role for at least 1 year.
BECOMING A HOTLINE VOLUNTEER AT SARA:
SARA operates a 24-hour hotline that responded to over 500 calls in 2018. Our volunteers are a valued and integral part of the work we do. In order to provide the best service to our clients, there is a mandatory interviewing, reference-checking, and training process for all incoming volunteers.
Here is the typical time-line for a Hotline Volunteer:
All prospective volunteers must complete an application indicating interest, experience, and relationship with sexual assault and crisis. We are looking for caring, reliable, empathetic, and non-judgmental individuals who are willing to commit to emotionally challenging work. Additionally, all candidates must be at least 18 years of age in order to volunteer.
Volunteer candidates must attend an interview in order to determine aptitude for the training program and volunteer commitment. Interviews are generally 15-30 minutes long and focus on interpersonal skills and experience with crisis and sexual assault.
We require 3 references to be contacted per volunteer. These references may be friends, coworkers, supervisors, professors, fellow volunteers, etc. They may not be family members or therapists. The best people to list as references are people who have known the candidate for a long time, can speak to their ability to handle crisis situations, emotional stability, and reliability. Also essential is that the references are easily contacted by phone or email.
Volunteers will be trained in many elements of crisis line work through the duration of training. Training consists of a mixture of lecture, small group activities and call simulation.
If I’ve completed a hotline training elsewhere, do I still have to go through SARA’s training?
Yup! Sorry, different hotlines have different protocol, and we want to make sure we’re on the same page. We’re sure there’s stuff that’ll be familiar, but a lot of things will be new, too! That said, we’d love to hear your perspective on how things were different with your former experiences, and maybe use your expertise to improve our own protocol.
Can I take calls from home?
Yes! Our hotline system allows calls to be forwarded to your personal phone lines, so there is no requirement for volunteers to be at the SARA office while taking a hotline shift.
Do I have a support system?
Definitely. SARA staff serves on call 24/7 and is always available to debrief with you after hotline calls. Additionally, we work to maintain a community of all our volunteers and advocates. Call content can be heavy, and debriefing with others helps our volunteers maintain enthusiasm for the work. We host monthly meetings for our volunteers and advocates to connect with one another, process their work, and boost skills.
Will I receive a training manual?
Yes! We create a comprehensive manual that will include all your training materials and resources to access while taking hotline calls. This manual will be yours to keep.
Community Outreach Volunteers organize and participate in community awareness events and projects. As a Community Outreach Volunteer, you will team up with other people in our community who care about making positive change, and interact with community members at events, while also providing the necessary support for these events and projects to take place. Participation in a volunteer orientation is required. Outreach Volunteers organize, execute, and participate in community awareness events; reach out to community organization, both local and rural; table specific events; and promote the agency's vision and mission.
Administrative Volunteers assist with answering office phones, greeting clients, and completing office responsibilities and projects as needed.