by Caroline Baldwin
Regardless of who you are or what the situation is, everyone can benefit from an open ear. CONTACT We Care does just that. CONTACT We Care was founded in Westfield in 1975 as a resource for people who needed someone to talk to.
According to contactwecare.org, CONTACT We Care is an award-winning, volunteer-staffed caring and crisis hotline serving New Jersey and is fully funded through donations. There were once more than 150 chapters in the U.S., only 52 remain today.
Said Physical Education and Health Teacher Ms. Lindsey Ginex: “They are here to listen to people about what is going on in their lives. The volunteers help with problem solving.”
Last year, CONTACT We Care instituted a texting service, which is available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 4 –10 p.m. To utilize this texting service, text CWC to 839863.
According to Director of Programs Ms. Sue Fasano, they’ve already answered hundreds of texts as well as thousands of calls.
Said Fasano: “We aim to be there for anybody who needs a listening ear, anybody who might be going through any type of emotional [hardship]. We’re available by phone or text and are here to listen empathetically.”
Listeners are volunteers who are trained through a 50-hour course. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and once a certified listener, there is a commitment of eight hours per month of listening, according to contactwecare.org.
Said Fansano: “We have volunteers who range from 18 to 80 years old. They’re people who want to help others in the community and keep the community safe from suicide. They want to be there for somebody else and even save a life.”
Although the organization is partnered with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, calls or texts don’t necessarily have to be regarding suicide.
Said Ms. Anne Fitzhenry, who previously volunteered for CONTACT We Care, “I spoke to people dealing with all kinds of issues, mainly mental health issues and related problems such as drug and substance abuse, domestic abuse and people contemplating suicide.”
This organization welcomes everyone. Said Fasano: “We’ve had people as young as 10 to 11 who have called or texted and then as old as 90. Our volunteers offer nonjudgmental listening regardless of age, race, religion or gender.”
If you ever feel like you need someone to talk to, the calling service is open every day at all hours at the number: (908) 232-2880.