Volunteer Shortage Leads To Shorter Hotline Hours At Arkansas Crisis Center

SPRINGDALE (KFSM) -- After a decline in volunteers, the Arkansas Crisis Center has reduced the number of hours it mans its crisis hotline.

Executive Director Mary Katherine McKinley said the once 24-hour hotline has been reduced to 16 hours, so for now callers can only reach a live person from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The Crisis Center was created in 1985 by a group of parents in Northwest Arkansas. Since then, the hotline has grown, averaging around 10,000 phone calls every year with a full staff of people who donated their time, McKinley said.

The nonprofit takes calls from all of Arkansas' 75 counties, offering guidance and support to people in a time of need.

"Basically, a volunteer is not able to staff our hotline, it means there are hours that are not covered," McKinley said. "That could mean we miss a call and therefore are unable to save a life."

Volunteers have to be over the age of 18 and undergo about 40 hours of training. After that, volunteers must go through additional monthly training courses. For more information about volunteering at the Crisis Center, click here.

McKinley said volunteers can answer calls from the Crisis Center office or from home for as little as 30 minutes or several hours at a time.

Angela Davis, who has been volunteering for five years, said her own experience inspired her to help others.

"I was kind of depressed and didn't have anyone to talk to," she said. "Once I was able to move forward with life, I was like 'you know what, it's a good feeling to know that there are people out here who care.'"