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Like so many others throughout the US and the rest of the world, we’re heartbroken over the events that played out early Sunday morning in Orlando. Yet another city’s name has become synonymous with tragedy.

Violence inflicted upon any person or group of people is horrific regardless of the circumstances, location in the world, or nature of the attack. The shooting in Orlando left us saddened because for many who identify as LGBTQIA, clubs and bars like Pulse make up part of the fabric of the LGBT community along with outreach centers and other friendly gathering places. For those who don’t find acceptance at home, these spaces are sanctuaries and the people in them become like family. This act of violence was carried out during Pride Month when members of the LGBT community and their allies are celebrating together.

These events are a sobering reminder that even in times of sweeping progress for LGBT causes and more visibility than ever, danger still exists and for some communities it is an epidemic. The threat of violence makes a huge impact on the mental health and well-being of LGBT people, and losses to suicide and suicide attempt rates continue to be higher among LGBT populations than those of non-LGBT counterparts.

Let us not allow intolerance and violence towards one group spawn persecution of another. Let us all try every day to bring education and awareness to those who may fear the unfamiliar and unknown. Whether that is fear of a sexuality, gender, religion, culture, race, ethnicity, nationality, or other qualities they may find foreign to their own experience. Ignorance, fear, or intolerance can morph and grow into hatred and violence when fed and nurtured. Knowledge and education can bolster tolerance and acceptance. Most importantly, let’s all love and support one another and recognize that when we all stand together in peace and solidarity, we stand stronger.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

To the LGBT and other helplines around the world, thank you for being the light that drives out darkness for so many people.

For emotional support, information and referral, educational materials, and other ways you can support and help the LGBTQIA community, please explore the resources below.
The Trevor Project
LGBT Youthline
Switchboard LGBT Helpline
Nottingham & Nottinghamshire Lesbian & Gay Switchboard
Gay Switchboard Ireland
Trans Lifeline
It Gets Better Project
Human Rights Campaign
Have a resource to add to this list? Leave us a comment below!

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A dark, empty room with no escape

Depressive disorders are extremely common — 15.7 million American adults experienced a major depressive episode in 2014. It’s much more than simply feeling sad, it’s a medical condition with physical symptoms. Check out the infographic by Mental Health America to learn more as we continue our recognition of Mental Health Month, and be sure to visit their website for lots of great materials to help you spread the word to your community.

Depression Mental Health America infographic

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iCarol using HTML5 Audio Elements for Messaging

Apple’s QuickTime program enjoyed a long run as one of the most popular plugins used for audio playback. It was recently announced, and confirmed by Apple, that they will no longer support the program for Windows users, due to security vulnerabilities.

Our Messaging users may recognize QuickTime as it relates to the sound effects associated with new incoming chats and arriving messages. Earlier this month, iCarol replaced audio playback with HTML5 Audio Elements. Now, no plugin, including QuickTime, is required to hear the sounds associated with iCarol Messaging *, making our Messaging services even easier to use and implement.

We understand that many reputable sources are strongly urging consumers to uninstall QuickTime due to the security vulnerabilities. We suggest consulting with your IT professionals at your center for guidance and assistance with that process should you choose to take action. We’re committed to providing the safest, most secure systems for our users, so you can rest assured that when you uninstall QuickTime you’ll experience no loss of usability or other negative impact to your iCarol Messaging program.

If you have any questions about this, please don’t hesitate to contact our support team.

Speaking of sounds, we are also considering updating the sounds that iCarol plays when new conversations and messages are received. We would love your feedback and ideas so watch our blog for that discussion coming soon!

* Internet Explorer 9 and above requires a Windows Media Pack to play the files we are using for chimes as native HTML5 Audio.

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Why are we so good at what we do?

When a new helpline joins iCarol and our support team begins assisting the helpline staff through their trial and eventual implementation, there’s one piece of feedback we hear often: “Your team really ‘gets’ what we do!”

We never get tired of hearing that! It’s important to us that our helplines know how much we value your work, your industry, and the help seekers that use your service. We understand that whether you’re transitioning to iCarol from another software provider, or just getting started with helpline software, it helps to be working with people who truly understand your business.

That’s why as a company, iCarol believes in employing team members that can understand and relate to your experience. Many members of our team come to us with a background in the helpline industry.

As we get closer to presenting our first ever Summit, a day-long event filled with intensive iCarol training sessions held just before the AIRS Conference, we wanted to introduce you to the members of our team with Information and Referral backgrounds who hold AIRS certifications, including those who will be on hand at the Summit and the AIRS Conference. Haven’t signed up for our Summit yet? Click here for more details and to register!

Click here to see the full Summit Agenda.

* This team member will be at the AIRS Conference playing an active role in iCarol’s first ever pre-conference Summit.

Carmen Lovas, Manager, Client Support and Implementation

Carmen Lovas Carmen Lovas joined the iCarol team in 2012. Her current position is Manager of the iCarol Client Support and Implementation Team. Prior to her employment with CharityLogic, she was employed for 7 years at an agency who offered both crisis and 211 services to the public. Her focus was on 211 services, and she held the Certified Referral Specialist certification from AIRS. Carmen believes that 211 services are under-utilized by the public and therefore wishes to help iCarol clients learn and use the iCarol software to the best of their ability to support raised awareness of these services so more people can get the help they need.

Crystal McEachern, Associate Product Manager*

Crystal McEachern Crystal McEachern volunteer then worked at a blended crisis and 211 programs for five years in various roles. During that time she was the Resource Department Supervisor and was responsible for the oversight and management of the local and provincial 211 Referral Database. Crystal also earned her Certified Resource Specialist designation through AIRS and her Certified Crisis Worker credential through the American Association of Suicidology. Crystal started with iCarol as a CSIS in January 2015 and is excited to be part of the Product Management team at iCarol.

Crystal says, “I think I&R is important because there is so much information in this world, having someone available to help navigate through all the information noise to find authentic and trustworthy information is priceless. I know from personal experience how overwhelming trying to find the right information, at the right time can be, so I am glad to help I&R centers be that responsive and trusted source of information.”

Polly McDaniel, Director of Business Development*

Polly McDanielPolly worked at The Institute for Human Services’ 2-1-1 HELPLINE program for nine years in various roles, but most recently as Operations Manager, overseeing operations of the contact center and the resource department. During that time, she also helped many other 2-1-1’s and specialized information and referral organizations across the country with various Project Management and consulting projects. She has been with iCarol since July, 2016 in the role of a Client Support and Implementation Specialist, helping iCarol users to best use their system to meet the mission of their organizations. Polly has also participated on national task groups, provided training at the national and state levels and served as the Resource Track Manager for the AIRS Conference for the past three years.

She is very often seen responding to AIRS Networker posts encouraging participants to be “part of the conversation” that helps keep the I&R industry moving forward as she is passionate about helping to further our industry. Polly is extremely excited to be part of the upcoming iCarol Summit, where these conversations will be held face-to-face!

Christa Knox, Client Support and Implementation Specialist*

Christa KnoxChrista previously worked in a Crisis and 2-1-1 center in Baton Rouge, LA for eight years before joining the iCarol Client Support and Implementation Team. In her previous position with the Crisis/2-1-1 center, she managed the agency’s entire AIRS Accreditation process, creating and implementing numerous policies and procedures in order to meet AIRS standards, and was the secretary for the Louisiana AIRS affiliate board. Christa first became a CIRS in 2010 and a CRS in 2011 and held them each for five years. She is in the process of renewing those certifications again. She presented an AIRS conference session last year on creating a customized Incident Command System for I&R agencies to use during disaster response activities. She’s very excited to attend her fifth AIRS conference, now as an iCarol representative.

Diana Yovanovich, Client Support and Implementation Specialist

Diana YovanovichDiana worked for Inland Empire United Way 211 (San Bernardino County) for over 8 years in various roles, but most recently as Data and Research Manager, overseeing the Resource Department. During that time, she participated in collaboratives and partnerships at a County and State level with other 211’s and stake holders. She has been with iCarol since July, 2016 as a Client Support and Implementation Specialist, assisting iCarol clients to best use their iCarol system to meet the mission of their organization. Diana has held the AIRS Resource Specialist Certification since 2009.

Mary Kruger, Client Support and Implementation Specialist

Mary Kruger Mary Kruger is a new Client Support and Implementation Specialist and came to iCarol from 2-1-1/LIFE LINE in Rochester, NY. She started as a counselor before moving to a position in the resource department. She holds AIRS CRS and CIRS certifications.

Below you’ll find a first look at our Summit Agenda! We’re very excited to share these details with you. Please note that our agenda is not yet fully finalized, we reserve the right to make some small adjustments to our schedule and content. Not signed up yet? Click here for more details and to register!

Summit Agenda FINAL

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Adjusting the shift schedule during absences or vacations

During spring break and other common vacation periods, staff and volunteers may need to adjust the time they serve at your agency. You want to ensure that your calendar is up-to-date with all changes and the following iCarol features are there to assist.

Unregister from a shift

If a volunteer or staff member has already signed up for or been assigned to a shift, but realizes that they cannot serve the shift, they can un-register from the shift. To do so, the volunteer or staff member will use the shifts area of iCarol to navigate to the day of their shift, and will click on their name in the list of shifts. A pink box will appear to the right, and in that box, there is an “Unregister” button which they should click.


Clicking this button will remove the person’s name from the shift, and it will revert to an “Open” shift so someone else can sign up for it.

Shift Substitution

This feature is similar to the “Unregister a shift” feature, but goes an extra step and facilitates the coverage for shift assignment changes. If a volunteer or staff member has already signed up for or been assigned to a shift, but realizes that they cannot serve the shift, they can ask for a substitution. To do so, the volunteer or staff member will use the shifts area of iCarol to navigate to the day of their shift, and will click on their name in the list of shifts. A pink box will appear to the right, and in that box, there is an “Ask for Substitution” button which they should click.


Clicking this button will send an email to all users indicating that the volunteer or staff person is looking for a substitute, and will highlight the shift in yellow so it is easily spotted. If someone would like to substitute, they would navigate to this shift in the Shifts area of iCarol, and click the Accept button.

Shift substitution

Whether or not you allow un-registration or shift substitutions, and how soon before the start of a shift a person can unregister or ask for a substitution, are settings Admin’s can control via the Shifts tab in Admin Tools.

Exceptions to Repeating Assignments

If you have members that are assigned to the same shift over a period of time, the repeating assignment is a great tool to use. This tool allows you to collectively schedule those repeating assignments and it also handles exceptions, such as to remove the person from the shift during a particular time span when they will be on vacation. To do so, use the shifts area of iCarol to navigate to the first shift within a repeating shift assignment that they would like to unregister for and click on their name. A pink box will appear to the right, and in that box, there is a link labelled “Repeating assignment” which they should click.

Exceptions to repeat assignments

This will cause the following box to pop-up:

Repeating Assignment Tool

Firstly, the volunteer or staff person should click the radio button next to “Remove”. Next, using the drop-down boxes, they should indicate what time frame (every, every other, each month’s first, etc.) and what day of the week they would like to be removed from. The date next to “between” will be defaulted to the date of the shift the volunteer or staff person is adjusting. The volunteer or staff person should adjust the date next to “and”, or check the box next to “no end date” to remove themselves from every shift into the future. Finally, they should click the “Make these changes” button.

If you have any questions about these tools, please do not hesitate to submit a case to the support team via the online case management tool, found in the Help menu in iCarol.

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Spring has sprung, are you tending to you?

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, it feels like spring is thisclose to being here. And the truth is it does officially arrive on Sunday, but for many of us it won’t really feel like spring yet (We’re supposed to get several inches of snow here in Maryland on Sunday). Depending on where you are, you may have already enjoyed stretches of beautiful days with warmer temperatures (Like last week at my house. Raise your hand if spring runs hot and cold, both in temperature and temperament, where you live.) or perhaps it’ll be weeks or even months before you’ll get your sweet reprieve.

Anyway, all this to say spring will get here eventually, and I’ve always found that the initial delight is all too soon replaced with being overly busy and stressed. For some it’s endlessly running the kids around to spring sports and the influx of other requests and activities that accompany the warm weather. For me it’s the pressure to get my gardens into shape and do outdoor labor before the mild temperatures of a typically brief spring turn into a sweltering and humid early summer (have I mentioned yet that Maryland weather can be downright weird?). Not to mention all the other household chores I’m sure you can relate to, those things that we conveniently put off thanks to the cold weather but run out of excuses to avoid come springtime. And finally, I know many of you working at crisis and suicide prevention centers know all too well that spring typically means an increase in the number of suicide calls, which adds to the stress and workload at your helpline.

Spring isn’t all flowers and sunshine but we’re at least presented with the opportunity to see it coming, then take control and keep our mental health and stress levels in check.

If the weather man is right, these crocuses will be covered in snow in two days…

When I feel myself slipping into that over-stressed state, I look back on a blog from a few years ago outlining some common practices to achieve good mental health and remind myself that there are everyday things I can do to help myself.

I recently found this pretty cool interactive self-care tool that does a good job of walking you through a variety of tasks to help.

If you have some time on your hands check out this series of TED Talks specifically about self-care. The summaries of each can give you a good idea of which ones may interest you most. The majority are 15 minutes long or less, several are only a few minutes long, so it’s not a deep investment of your time, but they can be very insightful.

If all else fails, spend a few minutes of your downtime playing a fun game, like this cute and simple bunny hop game I recently stumbled on. I started out watching my 5 year old nephew play, and then it became a quick stress buster I could turn to for a few minutes of fun to give myself a break from a task that was stressing me out (Doing my federal income taxes).

I hope you’ll take a moment to remember your own mental health and well-being as we go through yet another transition of seasons. I promise I’ll try to do the same!

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Join Our Summit in St. Louis

Right now the information and referral industry is in the midst of transformation. In a time where there are varying challenges facing our communities, help-seekers need the expertise and hands-on guidance of information and referral specialists now more than ever. And, in an ever-evolving mobile and connected world, consumers are hanging up their phones in favor of the convenience of communication via texting, live chat, and simply finding the right resources on their own via the web. Meanwhile, stakeholders desire access to data about the needs of the clients served by helplines, the efficacy of the services, and the gaps between human needs and the availability of services to meet them. These changes, and the need to adapt to them in order to stay relevant, can understandably overwhelm members of the industry, from visionaries and leaders to helpline staff.

AIRS Summit quote for blog

Coming from helpline backgrounds ourselves, we’ve always been passionate about creating tools that make helping people even easier. We want to share our insights with you, and that’s why this year we’re holding a special day long intensive training summit just before the AIRS conference in St. Louis. Whether you’re a long-term customer or are considering iCarol for use in your I&R center, please join us to focus on best practices using iCarol, led by our staff of Certified Resource Specialists. Focused on 2-1-1 Directors, Call Center Directors and Resource Managers, you’ll learn about:

  • Strategies for getting the most out of the software
  • Cases studies from our clients using iCarol for innovative solutions
  • Serving clients by phone, web, chat and text in one integrated system
  • Applying the AIRS Standards and using the taxonomy well
  • Advanced training on existing iCarol features and a peek at features coming soon

This day long event will be conveniently located at the same hotel as the AIRS conference, and lunch will be provided.

Learn more and Register

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3(.14) ways to use pie charts

Happy Pi Day! What’s that exactly? Remember geometry and learning about finding the area and perimeter (aka circumference) of circles? To get your calculation correct, you need Pi in your equation. You might also see pi as the Greek letter “π”. It’s the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is always approximately 3.14159… (it’s actually been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond the decimal point!).

In the US and some other countries we write our dates in a MM/DD/YY format so today, March 14th, is 3/14. If you round Pi to it’s ten thousandth decimal place you get 3.1416 which means this year today is the ultimate Pi Day! And even though most other countries write their dates in a DD/MM format, today is generally accepted as Pi Day worldwide since we only have 12 months. If you’re nerdy like me, you can read more about Pi Day here. Yes, it’s a real thing. Yes, it has its own website.

In honor of Pi Day, here are 3 interesting uses of pie charts in iCarol.

1. A Bird’s Eye View

Use Pie Charts to give you a sort of broad overview of how the numbers or percentages are shaping up for a certain sub-category of your call form. Or, use it as an overview of your location breakdowns.

In the Analysis tab of Statistics, when selecting Chart Type, you have two Pie Charts to choose from, either Caller Issues and Demographics (which will start by showing you all the Categories on your call form) or Caller Location.

pie chart

The resulting charts are below. If you selected the Caller Issues and Demographics chart you get this broad overview of your call form Categories.

categories pie chart

And if you selected the Location pie chart you’ll see a high level look at the geographic location entries.

location pie chart

2. Drill down to get more detail

Once you’ve got that high level pie chart available, you can click on pieces of the pie to drill into the data below. Drilling into a Category will then show you the sub-categories that are available. These sub-categories are the Groups or questions asked within each category on your call form. On a location chart, drilling into the State or Province piece of the pie will show you the county level information.

If we take our Caller Issues and Demographics chart above and drill into the mauve colored “Issues” category, we’ll see the Issue choices of sub-categories.

Issues pie chart

If we click on the “Mental Health/Counseling” piece of the pie, we’ll drill down to the lowest available level, which are the field choices or answer options within that sub-category. These are the items you may find in the drop-down or list of check box choices on the call form.

mental health field choices

As mentioned, if you drill further down into the location pie chart, you’d get the counties breakdown. So if I click on Nevada, I’ll see the Nevada counties chosen.

Nevada counties

Clicking on Eureka county shows me how the city numbers shape up for that county.

Eureka cities

3. Percentage vs. Count

Remember if percentages aren’t really your thing and you’d like to see a count instead, just click the “Total Count” option for any of the pie charts shown.

Count vs Percentage

Now that I’ve told you a bit more about pie charts in iCarol, I suggest you go celebrate Pi Day in the truly best way possible — enjoy a piece of real, edible pie.


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Coming soon: Powerful upgrades to our infrastructure

While we are proud of the fact that our total uptime in 2015 of 99.955% exceeded our goal of 99.95%, we understand that any downtime, no matter how brief or infrequent, impacts you and ultimately the people you serve. On February 28th we’ll complete a transition to new, even more powerful infrastructure to support our users. This change will affect our NA0 data center in Toronto upon which most of our clients are hosted, and will occur without impact or downtime to our users.

Once the transition has finished, you’ll enjoy enhanced system response that will improve your workflow. The redundancies included in this upgrade will drastically reduce already infrequent downtimes. This technology investment will also create an even more scalable system; as you build your partnerships and as we continue welcoming new helplines into the iCarol family, you can rest assured iCarol will continue to grow and will be able to more than accommodate your needs for added activity and data storage.

We look forward to continuing to serve you by aggressively investing in the best systems to support your life-saving work. If you have any questions about the upcoming upgrades or reliability, we invite you to open a case with our support team, and we’ll be delighted to assist you.

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9-1-1 texting continues to gain ground

We’ve talked before about how sometimes the need for silence will influence people to use texting instead of a voice call. Sometimes silence isn’t preferred, but necessary, such as in this recent instance of a deaf woman who texted 9-1-1 after she noticed some children left unattended at a shopping mall. Luckily texting to 9-1-1 was enabled in her area.

Texting to 9-1-1 is continuing its expansion throughout the United States and Canada. The Canadian Wireless Telecommunication Association has set up an extensive and detailed website giving overview of the Text-to-911 process in Canada.

In the United States, it seems like each month more and more jurisdictions are adding on texting capabilities. A quick scan of recent news articles about texting 9-1-1 in the US produces alerts about the greater Kansas City area, Minnesota, areas in Texas, and northern California. Note that each of those articles was published this week. It all points to rapid expansion of that technology.

Just another sign of the times as we continue to see just how convenient, efficient, and often necessary texting can be when reaching out for help. We hope helplines will take note as this capability expands and explore texting for the helpline service to follow suit. If you want to learn how Texting works in iCarol, please join me for a Messaging webinar sometime!

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