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Posts Tagged ‘Events’

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

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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Discounts for NASCOD/CUSA conference are ending soon – Register Now!

iCarol Webinars

Join iCarol at the National Crisis Center Conference in Arizona on October 20th: “Inspiring Hope” – presented by NASCOD and CONTACT USA. Attendance is essential for crisis organization managers and invaluable for all who work in crisis organizations and call centers. This conference is all about sharing knowledge and camaraderie; you are not alone!

NASCOD CUSA 2016 crisis helpline Conference

Please come and check out the amazing and definitely hope-inspiring presentation and workshop line-up they have in store for you this year by visiting http://www.nascod.org/conference/

But you must act quickly! Hotel conference discounts end after September 27th and conference registration closes October 7th.

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iCarol Presents: Using Data Repositories to Build Partnerships and Explore New Revenue Streams

You invest a lot of time collecting and then maintaining your database of community referrals so that you can connect your clients with the resources that can help them. But did you know that other organizations like hospitals, government agencies, corporations, and others have uses for that data, and are interested in partnering with you to access it?

Join us on Tuesday October 4th at 2pm EST for a webinar presented by iCarol Co-founder and CTO Neil McKechnie, to learn more about iCarol’s vision for creating data repositories that will help you build partnerships, open up new sources of funding, and most important of all, help more people.

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Join our next Quarterly Enhancement Review Webinar

It’s that time again! Our next Quarterly Enhancement Review Webinar will be happening soon: Tuesday September 13th at 1pm EDT.

In this webinar we’ll review some of the features recently released to iCarol that help you:

  • Build partnerships and add new revenue streams
  • Improve service delivery to chat visitors
  • Expand service hours for Live Chat and Texting
  • Grow your resource database without investing more staff time
  • …and more!

We’ll also discuss how the new features can be used in your day-to-day work, and how they can improve and expand your service offerings.

The webinar is typically most beneficial and interesting to current iCarol clients who are Program Managers or Directors and use iCarol at an Admin security level, or those who are considering subscribing to iCarol. That said, all are welcome to attend.

This is part of our commitment to providing excellent communication about iCarol capabilities, updates, and enhancements on a regular basis. We hope you’ll join us!

Interested, but can’t make it on the 13th? No worries, we’ll have the recording available on our website shortly after the live broadcast.

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iCarol Summit and AIRS Conference recap

May was a busy month for our team, capped off with a trip to St. Louis for the 38th Annual Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) training and education conference. But before that conference got started, we had an exciting event of our own to host.

For awhile now we’ve been wanting to experiment with holding an in-person training event for our clients; something that would allow us to go beyond the sessions we historically participate in during these conferences which generally must be not vendor specific. We love sharing our broad knowledge with folks at sessions like this, but recognize there’s an opportunity for iCarol-specific education especially given that so many of our clients would be present and, we hoped, interested in spending some time with us.

So late last year we began planning what would become the iCarol Summit, a day-long intensive training event hosted by us and featuring members of our team with extensive knowledge and expertise in Information and Referral (I&R). The Summit was held on Sunday May 22nd to superb turnout by iCarol users all across North America.

Neil welcomed everyone with an opening keynote where he discussed recent iCarol growth, the state of the I&R industry, and trends we’re seeing. A few highlights include:

    iCarol Growth
  • The size of our team has doubled in the last 18 months
  • The number of users worldwide is solidly above 50,000 and growing
  • 1/3 of 211s in North America use iCarol and that number is continuously growing
  • 5 of our staff hold CIRS or CRS certifications from AIRS
  • iCarol leadership continues to take an active role in discussions about AIRS standards and technology initiatives in the I&R industry
    iCarol Software
  • In 2015 we added over 1,600 enhancements to our product with many more coming before 2016 ends
  • There are more ways than ever for our users to enhance their iCarol knowledge, from training webinars and on-demand videos available now, to tailored walk-throughs which are coming soon
  • Discovering and trialing iCarol will be made easier with added automation to the onboarding process
    The I&R Industry Trends
  • AIRS standards continue to evolve
  • Big data and data sharing
  • Extending reach via mobile, live chat, texting, and social media
  • Self-service via the web and apps

From there, our participants headed onward to a day of sessions we developed with our users’ needs in mind. Polly gave a thorough presentation which walked us through bringing together AIRS standards and AIRS resource database quality recommendations using iCarol. She discussed iCarol program metrics and tools and how they can directly improve your ability to meet certain AIRS standards and recommendations. Just one of many examples, the Resource Complexity report, which provides an analysis of your records and how they rate on complexity. The report suggests statistical reportsthe number of hours it may take to manage them using the AIRS standards as a guide, therefore giving the tools to determine the number of FTEs needed at your agency to meet these standards. The rest of the presentation covered similar program tools and metrics that directly assist with meetings AIRS standards and thus achieving certification.

Christa led a session on the many ways you can use iCarol to reach your community beyond fielding phone calls — and we’re not just talking about iCarol Messaging (Live Chat and Texting). This session covered tools like the Public Resource Directory, Online Forms, texting or emailing referrals, follow-up texts, the API, and more. In fact, for each of these areas she discussed not just the tool as a whole, but some individual components or settings in each function. The group was exposed and educated on many iCarol features that they had previously not discovered, or didn’t have extensive knowledge of. Crystal held a session on Proving Your Value, covering topics like Needs and Unmet Needs reports, examining your exports, and a peek at new exporting tools coming soon, along with some discussion about Microsoft’s powerful Power BI capability.

These are just a few examples of the highly detailed and helpful breakout sessions we aimed to bring our participants, and we’re so pleased by the attendance and enthusiasm at these presentations.

messaging 2.0

At the end of our Summit, Rachel presented a traditional usergroup session, which was open not just to Summit attendees but to any interested party who was visiting the conference and wished to learn more about iCarol. In this final session of the day, Rachel touched on some of iCarol’s product initiatives, including planned enhancements we’re currently calling “Messaging 2.0” and “Public Resource Directory (PRD) 2.0.” Messaging 2.0 will enhance the usability of this feature via a more efficient approach to both the workflox and access to the resource search. These enhancements will also improve your productivity — not only will you be able to find and give visitors their referrals even faster, but the enhancement should result in a quicker response time when working in your forms. Messaging 2.0 will also bring with it increased reliability and fewer opportunities for the already low occurrence of “lost” messages. This enhancement is still being developed and so we cannot commit to a firm release date right now, however at this time we estimate a fall 2016 launch.

The new developments to the iCarol PRD will boost your ability to direct help-seekers to services via the PRD’s embedded resource search on your website. The enhancements will reduce the time it takes to obtain search results, while simultaneously offering greater control over appearance including more integrated tools to build “guided” searches, or customizing CSS or using the API for even greater control. Further, you’ll be able to configure the weighting of search results, set up guided searches, filtering, and more.

Rachel wrapped up our day by speaking to other recently released development, and spoke to a few other planned enhancements for the remainder of 2016.

We thoroughly enjoyed presenting our first ever iCarol Summit, and we truly hope all who attended enjoyed themselves and learned a lot that they can put into practice at their helplines. The feedback we’ve received so far has been extremely positive, and the success of this event has encouraged us to plan future events. We’d appreciate your help in making that happen. Please take a second to answer just a few questions that will help us develop future training events.

Help us plan future events

Next up was the AIRS Conference, and the team had a blast. It’s difficult to sum up so much activity and also express how much fun we had. These events are always a great chance for us to see each other, our clients, industry folks, and meet lots of new friends.

Polly and Crystal hosted an extremely popular session called “Crunching the numbers” where they took the audience through the process of interpreting your data through Excel tools like pivot tables. This workshop was non-vendor specific, meaning the session focused on elements that any helpline with data could find helpful, regardless of the software they use to collect that data. According to Polly, one attendee of the presentation said he was working on his MBA and some of the material covered in the session wasn’t even included in an advanced course on Excel.

We received great feedback about this workshop — Stay tuned as you may see the opportunity to watch either a live or recorded version of this presentation in the future.

As usual, we had a booth set up so we could share information about iCarol to interested parties, as well as having a place to greet our users who came to visit. The exhibitor’s hall was expansive and impressive, located in the lobby area of the historic St. Louis Union Station Hotel. Check us out in the bottom left of the photo.

St. Louis Union Station Hotel Lobby

We kept ourselves tuned in to the trends and discussions impacting the I&R industry. There were a lot of conversations that extended the themes of the keynote from the United Way 2-1-1 CEO convention back in March, which we attended. There are plans to build a national resource data repository for United Way Worldwide, and it appears those plans are progressing and getting more detailed. We’ll be keeping a close watch on this, as it could influence iCarol innovation and development of tools for our users who may want to participate in such a database.

Follow-ups, measuring outcomes, processing and effectively reporting your data, and expanding your reach to help seekers all emerged as hot topics. As we hope you’d expect by now, we’re actively engaged in these conversations and constantly assessing how iCarol can be developed to give you the leverage you need.

Our users are doing some pretty cool stuff using iCarol — notably Kings United Way in California which created the 211 Intelliful app that connects residents of Kings and Tulare Counties in California with the resources available to them. It’s available via the App Store and Google Play, and will give you a good idea of all the amazing things you can do using the iCarol API. We were happy and really impressed with the app they developed and others clearly were, too.

Kings united way California 211

Of course we left time for fun. St. Louis provided lots of opportunities for that. The gang enjoyed a tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery

And as is tradition, we also took in a ball game, Cardinals vs. Cubs.

And just like that, it was over! We loved our time in St. Louis and this was a particularly energizing conference in part because of the iCarol Summit and in part because of all the creativity, innovation, and excitement we were exposed to. Don’t forget to give us your input about future in-person trainings by iCarol — we’d love to take you with us on our next adventure!

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International Day of Yoga

June 21st is International Day of Yoga! Did you know that yoga has both physical and mental health benefits? Several studies have found that yoga…




  • Relieves stress
  • Calms and centers your nervous system
  • Helps with concentration
  • Improves mood and functioning

And much more! You can read more in a publication from Harvard Medical School.

Now get out there and practice your Tree Pose! 🙂

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Update call on Zika today at 4:30pm EST

In an email distributed today, The White House announced that officials will hold an update call on the Zika virus. We realize many of helplines, particularly in the 2-1-1 or information and referral sector, are receiving calls, chats, and texts about Zika and are always looking for new information to use as they update resources.

The email announcement reads:

    Please join Amy Pope, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Homeland Security Advisor at the White House and CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat on Tuesday, May 10th at 4:30pm ET as they share updates on the President’s plan to prepare for and respond to the Zika virus at home and abroad, as well as an update on CDC guidance.

    WHEN: Tuesday, May 10th at 4:30 pm ET

    RSVP: Use this link to RSVP for the call. For closed captioning, please visit this website and use code 2941599

    This call is off the record and for engagement purposes.

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Update call on Zika today at 2pm EST

In an email distributed today, the US Department of Health and Human Services announced that CDC officials will hold an update call on the Zika virus. We realize many of helplines, particularly in the 2-1-1 or information and referral sector, are receiving calls, chats, and texts about Zika and are always looking for new information to use as they update resources.

The email announcement reads:

    Please join Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC Principal Deputy Director, and Anne Reid, Counselor for Science and Public Health to the Secretary, on Tuesday, April 26th at 2:00pm ET as they share updates on the Department’s plan to prepare for and respond to the Zika virus at home and abroad, as well as an overview of Secretary Burwell’s trip to Puerto Rico. Dr. Judith Monroe, President and CEO of the CDC Foundation, will be on the call to discuss the CDC Foundation’s role working with external partners in support of CDC’s Zika virus response.

    Date: Tuesday, April 26th

    Time: 2:00 pm ET

    Dial In: 888-455-0031

    Passcode: 6166680

    This call is off the record and for engagement purposes.

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iCarol attends the United Way CEO 2-1-1 Summit

Last week I had the privilege of attending the United Way CEO 2-1-1 summit hosted in Denver, Colorado. It’s important to us that iCarol continue to be involved and at the forefront of developing initiatives and thoughts in this industry, hence our attendance at this summit and the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems conference next month, including our own all-day training just before AIRS which we hope you’ve heard about by now. We’d love to see you at that event, or at our usual User-group open session that we’ll hold at about 2:30pm on May 22nd. For information on all our activities at AIRS next month, check out our web site.

In Denver last week, Stacey Stewart, President of United Way, opened the CEO 2-1-1 summit with an emphatic speech about the importance of 2-1-1 to United Way. It seemed clear to me that United Way wishes to continue bolstering 2-1-1 as a national initiative and several thoughts were put forth to support those plans. My additional takeaways and interpretations about United Way’s position on 2-1-1 after listening to the speech include:

That the major focuses for 2-1-1 should be…

  • Self-service options that are intelligent and accurate
  • Providing predictive trending to community and national leaders and decision makers
  • Meeting help-seekers where they are, notably on mobile devices

And that the 2-1-1 Brand promises access to:

  • Information
  • Service
  • Outcomes

A note on Outcomes: there is a growing chorus of support for 2-1-1 ensuring not just that a quality referral is made but that the person actually received the help they needed. This of course means added emphasis on follow-up, surveys, and the like.

In her opening remarks Ms. Stewart also left us with the thought that 2-1-1 should, “Be the barometer of human need in America.” We know this to already be true; 2-1-1’s have long been on the front lines of hearing directly from help-seekers about what is needed, and having first-hand knowledge of the gaps between needs and availability and accessibility of services to fulfill those needs. This is one of the reasons why reporting and other information about the Needs as tracked with the Taxonomy, as well as documentation on Unmet needs and why those needs go unsatisfied, have long been a part of iCarol software.

In her closing speech on Day Two, she clarified an earlier mention of a “National Platform” to make sure people did not think it equated to one specific software ‘platform’. Although software and technology will certainly be a component, by “Platform” they mean an encompassing suite of services and initiatives from UWW that will advance 2-1-1 at the national level. Examples included:

  • Develop marketing materials like commercials, videos, websites, etc. to both provide as turnkey items for local 2-1-1’s as well as execute their own national campaigns
  • Strategy setting
  • Fundraising

We’d be interested in hearing from those of you who also attended to get your thoughts on all of this, and any other takeaways you had from this summit. Leave us a comment below to keep the discussion going. As for us at iCarol, we’ll continue to stand strongly behind our 2-1-1 users, who make up about one-third of all 2-1-1’s in North America, as these initiatives by UWW move forward. We’ll be there to support you with all the latest tools and innovation and strong infrastructure that will help you meet and exceed these big ideas put forth by UWW.

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Join our next Quarterly Enhancement Review Webinar

It’s that time again! Our next Quarterly Enhancement Review Webinar will be happening soon: Thursday April 21st at 1pm EDT.

In this webinar we’ll review some of the features released to iCarol in recent months including:

  • New ways to engage with your community
  • Flexibility in resource record management
  • Greater control over user capabilities
  • …and more!

We’ll also discuss how each of these new features can be used in your day-to-day work, and how they can improve and expand your service offerings.

The webinar is typically most beneficial and interesting to current iCarol clients who are Program Managers or Directors and use iCarol at an Admin security level, or those who are considering subscribing to iCarol. That said, all are welcome to attend.

This is part of our commitment to providing excellent communication about iCarol capabilities, updates, and enhancements on a regular basis. We hope you’ll join us!

Click here to Register

Interested, but can’t make it on the 21st? No worries, we’ll have the recording available on our website shortly after the live broadcast.

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