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Hurricane Harvey brings record flooding to Texas

4th Reconnaissance Marines support rescue efforts in wake of Hurricane Harvey

Like many others, we’ve been watching the effects of Hurricane Harvey in southeast Texas, stunned by the images of record setting flooding and the impact on residents. In particular we’ve been thinking of all of our friends and clients in this area. As is typical of helpline work, they have an important role to play in disaster planning, relief and recovery, all while their own homes and families are at risk. We’re told that 2-1-1 Texas has remained operational throughout — a truly amazing feat in the wake of this historic hurricane. As we hear from them and gain permission to share their experience and stories of those they helped, we hope to bring that information to you.

Harvey serves as a reminder to all non-profit services and particularly helplines, contact centers, and 2-1-1s that you have a role to play in your community’s disaster plan as government services look for partner organizations that can disseminate life-saving information, offload call volume to government switchboards, and provide information across a variety of communication methods to make sure everyone is reached. Meanwhile, these not-for-profits naturally have to concern themselves with the safety of their own staff and their own infrastructure in order to remain operational. With Hurricane Irma now making its way towards North and Central America, and months left in hurricane season, it’s time to consider your disaster plan. And of course disaster goes far beyond tropical storms and flooding. Wild fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, blizzards, and other forms of disaster threaten communities across the globe.

We’ve recently been made aware of a website that provides a number of free resources helpful to any organization as they plan and prepare for disasters. You can access these resources here.

If you are interested in aiding in Harvey relief efforts, the United Way has announced establishment of a Harvey Recovery Fund. In the midst of these events it’s usually recommended to donate money rather than items, as storage space tends to be in short supply but cash allows organizations to purchase items on the ground for immediate distribution. They’ve offered information on the various ways you can make meaningful contributions on their website.

We extend our warm thoughts to everyone impacted by Hurricane Harvey. If you have information about relief efforts or if your organization has been directly impacted by Harvey and you would like to share your stories, please .

Photo appears courtesy of the United States Department of Defense. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Niles Lee.

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Ontario 211 Website Wins Microsoft Canada Citizenship and Community Award

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Congratulations to our friends at Ontario 211 (ON211) — recent winners of the 2017 Citizen and Community Global Impact Award for their website, along with partners BDO IT Solutions. This award is granted to an organization that exhibits excellence in creating solutions that improve communities.

This award is a result of a partnership between ON211 and BDO IT Solutions to create a cost-effective, web-enabled solution aimed at transforming ON211’s online presence and among other goals, making their website easier for community members to navigate and find needed resources. BDO worked closely with Ontario 211 Services to develop the service on Microsoft’s technologies and implement in the Microsoft cloud, Azure. ON211 Resource records are curated in the iCarol database and that data is made accessible to the website via the iCarol Resource API.

Read ON211′s full press release about the project and award here.

Find out more about iCarol’s Resource API here and here, and please contact us if you’d like to learn even more about using the Resource API at your organization.

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NCPG Announces 2017-2018 Officers

NCPG logo

From our friends at the National Council on Problem Gambling:

    The National Council on Problem Gambling announces the results of the elections for officers to guide the organization for the 2017-2018 term. Marlene Warner was elected President, Chip Polston was elected as Vice-President and Julie Hynes as Secretary. Ray Pineault was re-elected as Treasurer. All officers serve one year terms, with the President subject to a limit of two terms. To see the complete press release click here.

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Have a coffee on us!

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Technology has really changed the way businesses can advertise their products and services. Marketing has gotten so precise. Maybe you’ve noticed it when you log into your favorite social media platform. When I’m scrolling through my Facebook feed it’s almost eerie just how absolutely tailored the ads are to me personally. It’s not uncommon for me to see ads specific to the breed of dog I have, the music I listen to, or the hobbies and interests I post about.

But in spite of all the smart advertising tools available to businesses now, at iCarol we’re finding that good ol’ word of mouth is still the best way to bring new clients to our ever-growing family. The industry we serve is made up of a lot of tight knit networks where people work closely with peers at partner organizations. The opinions and experiences of a trusted and respected colleague who knows their business has a deep impact.

Our current iCarol users are our best advertising, and we greatly appreciate it anytime you help bring a new organization into our family. And that’s why we’ve started a new referral program to show our gratitude to clients who are helping us expand our reach.

The way it works is pretty simple: You probably know of a peer who could really use a solution like iCarol at their organization. When you agree to connect us with them, as a token of our gratitude we’ll send you a $5 e-gift card to use at Starbucks.

You can read all the details, and get started with sharing iCarol with a friend and claiming your coffee, by clicking here.

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iCarol at the DoD/VA Suicide Prevention Conference

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From August 1-3, Polly and Rachel will attend the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) conference on suicide prevention, held in Denver, CO.

Every two years the DoD and VA collaborate to host the Suicide Prevention Conference. The conference focuses on suicide prevention efforts across both departments and is the only suicide prevention conference that specifically addresses suicide among Military and Veteran populations at a national level. This year’s conference theme, #BeThere – It Takes a Community, is consistent with DoD and VA methodologies, which require a multi-pronged strategy for prevention including: media messaging, non-medical interventions, mental health interventions, training for gatekeepers, peer-to- peer support, troop and family member training, and leadership engagement. The DoD and VA recognize that education on a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention is vital.

This will be iCarol’s first year attending this conference, though suicide prevention for Veteran and active duty service members is a topic with which we’re familiar through our work in the suicide prevention industry at large, and our relationships with many clients who serve this population. Through our first visit to this conference we hope to learn even more about the unique needs and best practices for serving Veterans and active duty members of the armed services.

To read more about our work in this industry, click here.

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iCarol at the National Conference on Problem Gambling

NCPG logo

If you’re going to be in Portland for the 31st National Conference on Problem Gambling this week, be sure to stop by and say “hi” to Mary from iCarol who will be there for the pre-conference and will be at our booth in the exhibitor’s area. We’re proud to be a part of this event; the largest and oldest conference of its kind bringing together leaders in prevention, education, treatment, responsible gaming, research, and recovery.

We’ll be joining the Pre-Conference beginning July 19th and attending the Helpline Symposium workshop on July 20th. It’s important to us to stay engaged on all the latest with this group and learning the current events and news impacting the industry.

iCarol is the chosen provider for a national chat and text collaboration platform for the National Council on Problem Gambling. Several centers and organizations from around the U.S. participate to provide help in states where they provide services. Help seekers from around the U.S. text or live chat with the national service, then iCarol’s comprehensive design reads the help seeker’s location. If there is a center in the network from the person’s location designated to take the chat or text at that time, then the chat or text is sent to them. If there is not a designated center available, a trained back-up center is sent the chat or text. This successful model, which has been in place for a few years now, is great because help seekers get help close or specialized to them when it is available, and either way, help seekers always get connected to help. Contact us if you are interested in a model like this at your organization.

With every event we attend we continue to be amazed by the diversity in the helpline services available for so many different needs and issues in communities all across the world. Problem gambling helplines are doing wonderful work to strengthen families and improve health and wellness by reducing the economic, social, and personal costs caused by problem gambling. We’re sure it’s going to be another exciting and educational event. See you there!

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Epilepsy Foundation seeks after-hours provider

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The Epilepsy Foundation is seeking applications from those who have a documented expertise in answering information and referral calls; a phone system that can handle an independent call queue specific to Epilepsy Foundation calls and a separate queue for Spanish calls; capacity to expand staff coverage if warranted; and documentation of current AIRS Accreditation. Please review the RFP for full requirements and direct questions and proposals to:

    Tom Buckley
    Director of Information & Referral
    Epilepsy Foundation
    301-918-3770
    tbuckley@efa.org

Key dates to consider:

    Proposal Deadline: July 26, 2017
    Vendor Selection Date: August 16, 2017
    Project Start Date: September 11, 2017
    Vendor Information Call: July 13, 2017

The Epilepsy Foundation, a national family-led, community based, non-profit with nearly 50 local organizations throughout the United States, has led the fight against seizures since 1968. The Foundation is an unwavering ally for individuals and families impacted by epilepsy and seizures. The Foundation works to prevent, control, and cure epilepsy through community services; public education; federal and local advocacy; and supporting research into new treatments and therapies. The Foundation works to ensure that people with seizures have the opportunity to live their lives to their fullest potential. The Epilepsy Foundation’s National Office is in Metropolitan Washington, D.C.

The Epilepsy Foundation operates a national specialized information and referral (I&R), helpline that serves people who are concerned about epilepsy. The Alliance of Information & Referral Systems, a driving force behind the delivery of quality Information & Referral services, currently accredits the Epilepsy & Seizures 24/7 Helpline. The helpline responds to approximately 12,000 inquiries per year. Approximately 8,000 are telephone calls, 250 of these calls are via the Spanish line.

The Epilepsy Foundation National Office operates Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Eastern Time and on adjusted hours during the summer months. In 2013, the Epilepsy & Seizures Helpline began 24-hour coverage through an after-hours partnership where the partner handles telephone inquiries during the evening, weekend, holidays, and adjusted hours. In addition, the partner handles the Epilepsy Foundation Spanish line 24/7/365.

Learn more about the foundation on their website, and about their helpline here.

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Happy Anniversary to North Carolina 2-1-1!

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Our friends at United Way of North Carolina/NC 2-1-1 are celebrating their first anniversary with iCarol in the best way possible — snacks and cake shared amongst their hardworking staff! We think our logo looks pretty delicious as a cake decoration.

North Carolina 211 United Way iCarol anniversary

It’s been quite an eventful year for their team, including navigating the challenges that came with Hurricane Matthew and the subsequent flooding in their region. Through it all the dedicated people at NC 2-1-1 were there for the community, connecting them with resources and logging over 12,000 interactions into iCarol during that disaster. Wow!

NC 211 anniversary quote

We just love that they took the time to recognize the milestone and we couldn’t be happier to count them among our users. “Happy Anniversary” to the entire team in North Carolina! We appreciate the great work you do and are thrilled and honored to have you as a part of the iCarol family!

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Save the date: National Crisis Centers Conference registration now open

iCarol Webinars

We’re excited to announce, on behalf of our friends at the National Association of Crisis Organization Directors (NASCOD) and Contact USA, that registration for the 2017 National Crisis Centers Conference is now open!

The conference will take place from October 18th through 20th in beautiful Buffalo, NY. The event kicks off with a tour of world-renowned Niagara Falls and a welcome dinner Wednesday evening, and concludes with a closing banquet on Friday evening. In between kickoff and closing will be tons of educational and enlightening workshops and sessions aimed at enriching your staff and improving your ability to serve your community. To make sure you don’t miss out on any of the fun, the conference organizers encourage you to schedule your departure for no earlier than Saturday morning.

If you are a manager or director of any sort of crisis, supportive listening, counseling, or suicide prevention helpline or similar service, then we strongly encourage you to attend this conference. We have personally been attending for a number of years — in fact it was the very first event we began attending when iCarol was created so many years ago! Over the years we’ve developed treasured relationships with the organizations that organize and attend the conference, and we deeply value their service to their communities as well as their committment to increasing the impact of crisis centers everywhere. The workshops and sessions presented at this conference each year are NOT to be missed!

But you don’t have to take our word for it. According to the conference website, the event promises:

  • To enhance your Vision and Leadership skills to aid your success
  • Workshops that focus on management and leadership skills that will cultivate your effectiveness as a program Director/Manager
  • National networking opportunities available with experts in the crisis center field
  • Information on specific issues and challenges that you are facing as a Director/Manager

For more information, or to register you and your staff, head over to the conference website. We hope to see you in Buffalo this October!

National Crisis Centers Conference 2017

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May is Mental Health Month

Brain gears

May 1st marks the beginning of Mental Health Month. It’s a fitting time for all mental health advocates to recommit ourselves to spreading awareness and education, and opening ourselves to our own further enlightenment on the subject.

A number of well-known organizations are celebrating the month with valuable information on their website and social media feeds. Here are just a few:

Mental Health America has a Mental Health Month Toolkit available for download on their website. Their theme this year is “Risky Business” which encourages people to be aware and mindful of habits and behaviors that may increase the risk of developing or exacerbating mental illness.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reminds us of the prevalence of mental health conditions, affecting 1 in 5 Americans, and how those conditions impact friends and family as well. Their #IntoMentalHealth campaign encourages discussion and advocacy for awareness and reduction of stigma and prejudice.

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) urges us to #GetLoud as they celebrate Mental Health Week from May 1st through 8th. Going further than just reflecting on one’s mental health, CMHA encourages Canadians to demand the services, programs, and respect necessary to be well by getting loud and writing to members of parliament, speaking out on social media and in public, and donating time and money.

The National Council for Behavioral Health is promoting three key topics through infographics available on their website. These include Women’s Mental Health, Super Skills to Help a Friend, and a graphic that helps decipher whether a teen’s behavior may be part of their normal development or a warning sign of mental illness.

Undeniably one of the hottest topics in the field of mental health and suicide prevention right now is the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” which has generated some praise and a lot of criticism for its portrayal of teen suicide. While many argue that it’s doing a good thing by bringing the topic out into the open in such a huge way, others worry that its methods are unethical, that it discourages teens from seeking help from adults and professionals, and that it romanticizes suicide and presents it in a harmfully graphic way. School systems across North America have sent home letters advising parents of the series’ popularity and are encouraging adults watch the show to assess its appropriateness for their teen and to protect youth who may be particularly vulnerable to its content, as well as watching it with teens to prompt discussion and processing of the content. For its part, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention held a webinar on the topic, which quickly booked up. They’re promoting awareness of risk factors and warning signs as a part of Mental Health Month and have made the webinar recording available for viewing.

We hope these resources will help you spread the word about Mental Health Month. Is your organization holding an event or do you have your own content to share? We’d be happy to help you spread the word, just leave us a comment below!

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