Since it launched Feb. 1, 2011, the Pride Empathy Line has fielded more than 100 calls and is staffing around-the-clock support for Utahns. The program is a success and looking to spread the word to those who might be able to utilize its services and to those interested in volunteering, said Kristen Mitchell, the Empathy Line executive director.
“We want our community to know this: ‘You are not alone!’ Even when it seems that everyone in your life has rejected you,” Mitchell said. “We are here to support you and help you to find a new community. We have a big supportive community here, and there is no need for one more person to feel so alone that they take their life, or end up homeless.”
The line, 801-GO-PRIDE (801-467-7433), is staffed by volunteers for 24-hour service and is open to anyone who just needs that extra listening ear or is in need of direction for services such as TRANSAction and other programs.
“We are here to be their new friends, families and community. With bullying and suicides increasing, and 42 percent of the homeless youth population in Utah identifying as not straight; we are at a critical time to get the word out that you are not alone,” Mitchell said.
The program is looking for volunteers and needs to continue their growth as they receive more calls and spread the word about the program. From phone-line volunteers to administrative and fundraising help, the Empathy Line is looking for involvement from the community.
Those interested in volunteering can go to prideempathyline.org and fill out the application page. Phone line volunteers will be required to watch a set of training videos from their homes. Volunteers sign up for two-hour shifts and all calls are forwarded directly to their personal lines. In addition to simply listening, volunteers will also direct callers toward other services offered by queer resource centers throughout the state.
Focusing on helping make Utah a better place to live and helping those that need it most make this a perfect opportunity for queer and allied Utahns to get involved, Mitchell said.
For more information, go to prideempathyline.org or call 801-GO-PRIDE (801-467-7433).