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iCarol team in Phoenix for NASCOD/CUSA conference

NASCOD CUSA 2016 Conference

Next week Polly and Eliisa will be in Phoenix to participate in the NASCOD/CUSA conference.

This annual conference is special to us — it was one of the very first events that we started attending back many years ago when iCarol was first created and available as a software system for helplines. Many of the crisis centers that make up the NASCOD and CUSA groups were some of our first users and so this conference and this group of people holds a special place in our hearts.

If your center isn’t already accredited by CONTACT USA, or if you aren’t already a NASCOD member, we encourage you to consider both for your helpline.

CONTACT USA provides one of the most well known and respected crisis center accreditations in the industry. When you are accredited by CONTACT USA it shows your funders that they are contributing to a worthwhile and effective program, and also connects you to a national and international community of those who provide emotional support and crisis intervention all over the world. Further, your community will be assured that your organization provides the highest quality of service. To find out more about this accreditation, you can visit their website.

NASCOD membership is a great resource for Executive Directors or Program Managers of crisis centers. The group provides regular peer support calls on a number of different helpful topics, and group members are regularly networking, discussing challenges, sharing ideas, and generally supporting one another. Many NASCOD members are also iCarol clients and we really enjoy our relationship with the group and its members, iCarol users and non-users alike.

So if you’ll be one of the many people in Phoenix later this week, please stop by our booth and say hi! If you use iCarol at your helpline then we’d certainly love to get to visit face to face. If you’re not a current user, we’d be grateful for the opportunity to tell you about iCarol Helpline Software and how it’s used by helplines all over the world, many of whom will be represented at this conference. Hope to see you there!

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North Carolina 2-1-1 weathers the storm, helps those left in Matthew’s wake

NC 211

In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, many states in the southeastern United States faced destructive damage including massive flooding.

Here’s the latest from our friends at 2-1-1 in North Carolina:

    NC 2-1-1 Provides Resources to NC Residents Affected by Hurricane Matthew
    NC residents in all 100 NC counties can dial 2-1-1 from any phone 24/7 for resources

    Raleigh, NC – NC Emergency Management has asked NC residents affected by Hurricane Matthew or those wishing to help with disaster relief to dial 2-1-1 for storm related resources. Residents in all 100 counties can dial 2-1-1 from any phone to reach a trained call specialist who can help them find shelters, and learn about evacuation routes, find help with storm clean-up, locate food, water and ice, learn more about volunteer needs and more. The service is available 24/7 in any language and callers will always be connected to a live call specialist trained to assist during disasters.

    NC 2-1-1 call specialists are in contact with emergency management personnel and have the most up-to-date information on storm related resources, both during the storm and after. Call specialists can provide evacuation and shelter information, help people find food, water and ice distribution points and storm clean-up information and help, and help people find storm related clean-up help. Call specialists also have information about volunteer and donation needs and can provide that information to callers wishing to help those affected by the storm. NC residents should dial 2-1-1 or 888-892-1162.

    In addition to disaster related calls, NC 2-1-1 can help NC citizens find resources for other health and human service needs, such as food, housing, assistance with utilities, job training, information about health care providers, and more year round. All calls are confidential and the service is offered at no cost to North Carolina residents.

    NC 2-1-1 is provided to residents in all 100 North Carolina counties by United Way. The service is free, confidential, and available 24/7/365 in any language.

NC 2-1-1 staff shared with us that amidst the challenges of the situation, their service is standing out and being recognized by leadership throughout the state for their availability and outstanding service to their community. The system has proven itself to be a great tool to help citizens in need, and the people reaching them are feeling comforted, and pleasantly surprised, when they reach a live person.

We received a nice note from them in the aftermath of the storm:

    “iCarol has served us incredibly well and I am so pleased with how easily I can pull the statistics I need. A big thank you to Mary for helping me pull those saved chart templates together Friday afternoon. The leadership at emergency management has been so impressed with the kind of information we can provide to them with just a few key strokes.” – Heather, NC 2-1-1 Statewide Strategy Director

We’re honored to be NC 2-1-1′s choice of software providers and we’re glad that iCarol has been an instrument to help them help people and produce important data for emergency management personnel, while reducing stress on their staff. Our thoughts continue to be with them and with all the people in the southeast US affected by Hurricane Matthew.

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“The Listeners” and local helpline draw media coverage in Maryland

Listeners Still 9

Last week we shared information with you about “The Listeners,” a new documentary film that goes inside the work of suicide prevention helplines and the listeners who work there.

My hometown is one of the locations hosting a screening in the coming weeks, and my local paper published this article about the upcoming screening, the film itself, and the work of the local helpline (where I used to work!) which is a program of the Mental Health Association of Frederick County in Maryland. In fact, this showing is at capacity, having sold out all available tickets.

The article provides information about the services of the helpline in Frederick, Maryland and highlights the tough but valuable work they do. The publication also interviewed Robert Hurst, the director of the film, and he shares his thoughts on the work of the service where he filmed the documentary. He even participated in the volunteer training so he could get a first-hand feeling of what the volunteers go through, and he shares his feelings and experiences on that process.

A final thing to note about the newspaper article is that the author identifies herself as a suicide attempt survivor with lived experience, and shares her thoughts and comments on helpline services. She had valuable insight to provide that is not only interesting and adds a unique and important perspective to the topic, but may be worth sharing with the listeners at your own helpline.

The screening and local media attend around will undoubtedly lead to increased awareness of the hotline’s services, and integrated fundraising both at the screening and online associated with it, will likely lead to a donation boost as well. I’m excited to attend our local screening of “The Listeners” tomorrow and I’ll be sure to share my thoughts after.

UPDATE: The film was awesome and very well-received by the sold out audience of community supporters, mental health advocates, and helpline staff and volunteers. I can’t wait to share my thoughts — stay tuned!

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Louisiana United Ways/2-1-1 respond to flood disaster


Heavy rainfall over the course of several days has resulted in severe flooding in parts of Louisiana.

Here at iCarol our thoughts are with the people of Louisiana as well as our friends and partners at the United Way agencies and 2-1-1 call centers in the region who are helping those affected. Many of the people working at these agencies are currently facing the same hardships as the people they’re trying to help, and so it’s very inspiring to see their energy used in service to others at a time that may be just as difficult for them personally.

Our team also extends our love and support for our very own Christa who lives in Baton Rouge. We hope the flood waters recede soon so that everyone can be safe, regain power and other necessities, and begin the repair and recovery process.

The devastating impact so far:

  • 13 people have lost their lives
  • Over 30,000 rescues initiated
  • Over 12,000 people staying in shelters at the height of the crisis
  • 40,000 homes and businesses lost power
  • Over 60,000 homes damaged or destroyed
  • 102,000 registered for federal disaster aid
  • Over 25 inches of rainfall in some locations over the course of just a few days

United Way organizations throughout the region are helping to coordinate disaster relief efforts as well as accepting donations to assist with response. Please see below for press releases and other information from our contacts at these organizations:


From United Ways across Acadiana:

St. Landry-Evangeline United Way, United Way of Acadiana, United Way of Iberia and United Way of Southwest Louisiana have partnered to launch the Greater Acadiana United Way Disaster Fund. To donate, text keyword FLOOD2016 to 41444, visit each individual United Way web site or contact the individual United Way.

United Way-supported programs with nonprofit partner agencies help provide food, clothing, counseling and other services.

“On top of the downturn in the local economy, this flooding is causing even more damage to financially stressed families,” said United Way of Acadiana President and CEO Margaret Trahan. “We really need to pull together and pool our resources to do the most good for the most people.”

United Ways are partnering with local residents and partners in the non-profit sector, businesses, faith-based sector and government to help people through the recovery process.

United Ways are also working with Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) to assess all other volunteer needs. Once those other volunteer have been identified, a United Way representative will contact registered volunteers with additional information. You can register to volunteer for emerging volunteer needs at www.unitedwayofacadiana.org or www.getconnected.uwsle.org.

United Way of Acadiana is accepting donated goods at its warehouse at 215 E. Pinhook Rd. from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily until further notice.

This location is the staging point for all donated supplies, which will be dispersed to shelters and other places where needed.

United Way of Acadiana is also working in collaboration with The Daily Advertiser, which is also a drop-off site for donated goods until Monday, Aug. 15.

Items needed are:

  • Pillows
  • Blankets
  • Diapers
  • Baby food & formula
  • Toilet paper
  • Bottled water
  • Non-perishable food items (e.g. canned goods)
  • Buckets
  • Mops
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Rubber gloves
  • Masks
  • New, unopened packages of underwear (adult & children)
  • New, unopened packages of socks (adult & children)
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Shampoo
  • Soap
  • Toilet paper
  • Deodorant
  • School supplies, due to flooding in local schools
  • Boxes or containers

There is not a need for clothing donations at this time.

From Capital Area United Way in Baton Rouge:

With the continuing devastation occurring in our community, Capital Area United Way is now accepting donations for flood relief. During this historic flood, most of our 10-parish area has been deeply affected, and we stand together with local partners in the non-profit sector, businesses, faith-based sector and government to help people through the recovery process. Basic needs is one of the focus areas for Capital Area United Way to stabilize individuals and families in times of crisis.

To make a donation text LAFLOOD to 313131 or visit www.cauw.org and click donate. Donations can also be mailed to Capital Area United Way, Attn: Flood Relief, 700 Laurel Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802. For volunteer opportunities visit www.cauw.org/volunteer.

In addition to monetary gifts, Capital Area United Way is accepting donated goods (listed above) at its office at 700 Laurel Street from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily until further notice. This location is the staging point for all donated supplies, which will be distributed to shelters and other locations where needed.

Related reading:

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Following year anniversary of services, ONTX shares data

chat vs text

Ontario Online and Text Crisis Services program (ONTX) recently marked a year of service to their communities, and shared data with constituents in their latest newsletter. In the report they describe response to the program as “overwhelmingly positive” while allowing contact with many individuals who otherwise would not have reached out for help.

Some key findings:

  • Total chats and texts: 8,921
  • 75% of visitors were under 24 years old, while that same demographic makes up a very small portion of their phone callers
  • Over 200 specialists trained to take chats and texts
  • They receive an average of 5 suicide-related contacts each time the service is open
  • More than half of visitors said that in the absence of an online emotional support service like ONTX, they would not have spoken to anyone about their problem

For a full look at the released findings click here, or read a summary here. Want future updates from ONTX and other services of DC Ontario? Be sure to sign up for Distress and Crisis Ontario’s newsletter by emailing your request to .

We’re thrilled by the success of our friends at ONTX, though it comes as no surprise to us that they’ve had this response. The caring people at the Distress and Crisis Ontario have been providing listening support and crisis intervention to Ontario for nearly 50 years. Their latest step to make their services available in a way that works for everyone in need demonstrates their commitment to helping people and saving lives.

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Would you like to blog for iCarol?


The goal of iCarol’s blog is to provide interesting, helpful, and relevant information to our readers, who are typically volunteers or staff members of non-profit helplines located around the world, as well as people in executive and leadership roles, and other stakeholders. This group includes people who use iCarol, and also those who don’t.

Some of our best and most popular blog posts have come from helpline professionals who have a unique perspective to offer our readers. We’re always looking for new bloggers to join us. Here are some suggestions for topics to write about:

  • How your helpline handles a specific problem/topic that may be common in the helpline industry
  • Your thoughts or stance on a particular issue impacting helplines, or impacting larger industries of which helplines are a part (i.e. suicide prevention, mental health, substance abuse, LGBT, sexual violence, etc.)
  • Policies, procedures, thought processes, or philosophies on various topics that come up
  • Blogs about funding: Tips on how to get it, where to search for it, how to write a good grant or proposal, or how to convince your board or CEO to fund something that your helpline needs
  • Detail on partnerships you’ve formed that have ultimately helped your service thrive or improve service delivery. This could be partnerships with local law enforcement, emergency departments, counseling offices, organizations you commonly refer to, and more…
  • How-tos or tips for working with certain populations
  • Share information about how you use iCarol that may be helpful to other users
  • Going beyond service delivery — How do you market your program? How do you advertise and make people aware of your service? What outside resources do you turn to for help?
  • What events or conferences do you attend and why should other helpline professionals attend them?

And those are just a few ideas for the types of blogs we’re looking for. We welcome your own ideas and proposals for topics beyond what is listed above.

Once you submit it to us, we’ll review your submission. If chosen for publishing, we’ll set up a brief bio and byline for you, and when we publish your blog we’ll also link back to your organization’s website. In exchange we’ll ask that you also link to this blog using the outlets available to you, such as your own organization’s blog, newsletter, social media accounts, etc.

Original and exclusive content is great, however any material you may have previously written that was published elsewhere is welcome, so long as you or someone from your agency authored it and you have ownership over it and are authorized to cross-post it with us.

Interested? Want to submit an idea, a finished blog, or simply learn more? Please for more information!

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Career Opportunities at the Epilepsy Foundation

Epilepsy Foundation

Our friends at the Epilepsy Foundation are currently looking to fill two positions:

    Information Specialist
    Information Specialist to staff the Epilepsy and Seizures 24/7 Helpline between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Information Specialist responds daily to consumer, professional, affiliate and internal staff inquiries regarding epilepsy received via phone, inter-departmental transfers, fax, e-mail, online groups and forums, social media (Twitter, Facebook), walk-ins and traditional mail.

    Read the full job description and application instructions here.

    Health Resource Specialist
    Researches and identifies referral resources, both in the U.S. and internationally, that serve people with epilepsy for inclusion into the Foundation’s national epilepsy resource database in accordance with the agency’s inclusion/exclusion criteria. This position also monitors and responds to incoming inquiries from those with epilepsy and their families and helps to provide resources to support those requests, including basic information, self-management resources, national community resources and local resources in targeted local chapters.

    Read the full job description and application instructions here.

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Samaritans texting program featured in The Boston Globe

Smart Phone  with one finger

Another texting success story, this time featuring our friends at Samaritans, was covered in a prominent US news publication.

In April, The Boston Globe highlighted the success of Samaritans’ texting program, which you can read here. According to the report, the organization received more than 300 text messages in February, which was nearly triple the number received in January. They expect to receive upwards of 1,000 text messages per month by this summer as word of the program spreads.

Samartians opted to text-enable their helpline number for the purposes of this program, which is part of its success. Another clear contributor to the volume they’re experiencing is their latest advertising partnership with MBTA in Boston which began in January. The T, as it’s known in Boston, began showing messages on LED notification boards with information such as, “Lonely? Desperate? We can help 24/7″ featuring Samaritans’ number. This and other messages appear periodically between 7am and 9pm on weekdays, and 9am until 9pm on weekends.

While Samaritans and MBTA had an advertising partnership prior to this one, it was MBTA that approached Samaritans last year about expanding the messaging to reach an even larger audience. You can read more about this advertising program in The Boston Globe article.

From all of us at iCarol, we’d like to congratulate Samaritans on the success they’ve had so far, and we wish them all the best with this life-saving program moving forward.

To learn more about texting with iCarol, join one of our Service Alternatives: Live Chat and Texting webinars. If you’d like to learn more about text-enabling your helpline number check out our blog article, and reach out to our support team to get started.

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Cleveland Rape Crisis Center launches text and chat program with iCarol


In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, we’d like to share a recent story featured on Cleveland’s local CBS affiliate, highlighting the fantastic work of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, including their new chat and text program with iCarol. We were honored to welcome this organization into the iCarol family a few months ago and are so proud of the positive impact they are having, the dedication of their volunteers and staff, not to mention the strength and bravery of the survivors who they are helping.

CRCC promotes a vision of a community free from sexual violence. Their programs lend support and resources to survivors of rape and sexual abuse, helping them throughout their healing process, while also promoting prevention and social change necessary to abolish sexual violence. You can find out more about their many wonderful programs and services on their website.

As CRCC’s website discusses, it wasn’t all that long ago that most survivors kept silent due to the shame and also lack of societal understanding around rape and sexual abuse. In some ways things have improved for survivors in that there are now more resources available and more understanding people ready to hear and accept stories of sexual violence without judgment or blame placed on the survivor.

Still, survivors experience a myriad of emotions resulting from the trauma of sexual violence, and it can be extremely difficult to discuss. It’s estimated that even today, more than 2/3 of sexual assaults are never reported. The vast majority of sexual assaults also occur between two parties who know one another, and not between strangers. This further complicates an already painful experience, especially if the rapist was someone the survivor liked or trusted.

CRCC is a force behind breaking the silence by offering channels that meet the survivor where they are via outlets that can feel safer than discussing it over the phone. Like so many of our helpline clients have experienced, these silent forms of emotional support available through live chat and texting provide an anonymity that helps people feel less exposed and vulnerable, and can become a first step to recovery.

In the short time since their chat and text program launched, CRCC has been busy with traffic from their local community, while also receiving some messages from as far away as California and Nevada. Their experience of immediately receiving a healthy volume of texts stems from a great marketing plan, but also the fact that they text-enabled their existing helpline number – a number that had been known to their community for more than 40 years. We’ve often heard from our text-enabling users that texts will begin to flow in before much advertising or marketing is even done. We believe that this is because the pervasiveness of texting in our culture leads many people to assume these helpline numbers accept both chats and texts, and thus you could already be receiving texts to your helpline that you’re not even aware of.

We hope you’ll join us in congratulating the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center on this latest success and wish them well as they serve survivors of sexual violence. Check out the news story below!

Cleveland Rape Crisis Center

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Karma Nirvana helpline receives grant

karma nirvana logo

We’d like to congratulate our friends at Karma Nirvana as they recently announced that they are the recipients of a grant award.

This funding will go to assist the Honour Network helpline, the first national line of its kind, which serves victims and others concerned about forced marriages and honour-based abuse, as well as professionals who need guidance on these issues. Helpline counselors have experience in risk assessing situations of honour based abuse or forced marriage, and some can provide peer-based support from their unique perspective as survivors.

According to the organization, they currently serve a volume of approximately 700 calls per month from within the UK. They state that over 200 additional calls per month go unanswered, the majority of which ring to the center during evenings or weekends when the call center is closed. Thanks to this grant, Karma Nirvana will be able to extend their service hours, so they can help more people in need and fewer calls will go unanswered.

We’re so pleased by this wonderful news and wish all the best to Karma Nirvana as they extend their service offerings and save even more lives. To find out more about their service, please visit their website.

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