30 years of just being there
by Debbie Cazander
Telecare Crisis & Caring Line is marking its 30th year of providing a listening and caring service for anyone in distress and in need of emotional support. A celebration is being planned for Friday, October 18, 7 pm at New Life Church in Abbotsford. Popular local musician, Ryan McAllister, will perform and registered clinical counsellor Mark Eshleman, from Cedar Springs Counseling in Langley, will speak on the connection between our thoughts and our emotional well being.
As a call responder for Telecare, I would agree that oftentimes what the caller has been thinking about, will find its way into how they are feeling and consequently into the things they do and say. This can be especially difficult if the person has been pondering a painful situation, which is often the case when they call us. Life can be very challenging at times, and no one is exempt from experiencing hurt. Many of the people who reach out to us are regular callers. These individuals may call every week, if not every day or a few times a day, and need support and encouragement. Some may have been abused as children and have a hard time trusting anyone. Fearful that others are ready to inflict pain on them, they choose to isolate themselves, yet become lonely, and seek a human voice to connect with.
Loss, with all of its various dimensions, is a big pain inducer. Loss of a loved one through death or a break up of a relationship, loss of health or mobility, and loss of a job are but a few of the losses of the people who call us. Often, loss is accompanied with loneliness. Either people are missing the person who is no longer in their lives, or have a general sense of loneliness due to isolation.
Mental illness, mood disorders, addictions, being victimized or family disagreements can all lead a person to feel distressed and alone.
I know that neither myself, or any of the other call responders, can solve any of the callers’ issues. We are not counselors, but as trained and empathetic listeners, we can enter into their pain and let the caller know that they are cared for. At times, I have listened and calmly responded to a caller, yet have shaken my head in incredulity at the abuse described, or silently cried along with the pain expressed. I have wished that I could reach out through the phone and embrace them. But I can’t, so I do the best I can and I listen, I validate their feelings, I express my caring and I pray for, or with, them.
For the past thirty years, thousands of calls have been responded to by many different volunteers. Some of the volunteers have passed away, some have gone on to other volunteer opportunities and a small handful remain from the first years. Additional volunteers are trained each year. Taking the time to listen makes a difference to someone in emotional distress.
Consider attending the 30th anniversary on October 18 at New Life Church, 35270 Delair Road, Abbotsford. Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite for $20 each or can be bought at the door for $25.
If you would like to offer your support, either by becoming a call responder or by making a donation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.telecarebc.com. If you would like to talk to a call responder, please call 604-852-9099 if you live in Abbotsford or Mission, or call 1-888-852-9099 toll free from anywhere in BC.