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Contact Community Services, Syracuse, NY
Contact Community Services

Volunteer Training for
Contact Hotline and Crisis Chat

See Hotline training application at the bottom of page

2018 Hotline Training Dates

  • Hotline training occurs three times per year:
  • Winter – February 16, 17, 18
  • Spring – June 1, 2, 3
  • Fall 2018 – September 28, 29, 30
  • All training day are from 9am to 5pm. Attendance on all three days is mandatory.

Why Volunteer?
In order to provide 24-hour service every day of the year, the Contact Hotline relies on volunteers. Our Hotline volunteers are highly trained in active listening and suicide and crisis intervention.

Who Volunteers?
Volunteers come from all walks of life. Many are in "people professions" such as human services, customer service and sales, education or mental health. Many volunteers are college students fulfilling internships, service learning or field placement requirements. We also have many volunteers who are retired.

Staffing the Hotline
We ask volunteers to work a minimum of three shifts (12 hours) in the first six months of their commitment and two shifts (8 hours) a month after that.

Each volunteer shift is 4 hours:

  • 7am to 11am
  • 11am to 3pm
  • 3pm to 7pm
  • 7pm to 11pm
Staff members are always available to Hotline volunteers for advice and support.

Volunteer Training
Our required 45 to 50-hour Hotline volunteer training instills active (or reflective) listening skills, teaches crisis and suicide risk assessment, and prepares volunteers for how to intervene in an emergency situation.

Components of Hotline training include:

Observation. During observation shifts, a trainee will observe as an experienced volunteer answer calls. They will then discuss the listening skills the trainer used. We recommend that observation shifts be completed prior to the weekend training.

Weekend Training Classes. Training classes are comprised of lecture, videos, small group activities, and role plays. Topics covered during this training include:
  • The basic foundation of Active Listening
  • Crisis and suicide risk assessment
  • Active intervention for suicide
  • Mental health awareness
  • Policies and protocol for Hotline volunteers
Apprenticing. After completing observation and classes, trainees begin apprenticing shifts. An experienced peer trainer coaches and supports them as they answer Hotline calls. Most trainees complete three apprenticing shifts before they begin to take calls on their own.

Our training is extensive to meet the requirements for our certification with the American Association of Suicidology and in order to maintain our reputation as a viable service to the community. It is also highly recognized as a respected experience on resumes.

Advanced Training. All volunteers are required to participate in 2.5 hour advanced training sessions twice a year. This is an opportunity to refresh their skills, review challenging situations, and talk about new call procedures.

Volunteering on Crisis Chat
Crisis Chat provides online emotional support. Volunteers who successfully complete the basic training and show proficiency on the phones may qualify to answer the chat line. Additional training is required.

Application for Training
Please click on the following link to complete this brief online application for training:

If you have issues with the application website or have other questions, contact

Kristine Knutson
Program Manager Volunteer Relations
315-251-1400 ext. 115

Phone: 315-251-1400  
Fax: 315-251-2218

6311 Court Street Road
East Syracuse, NY 13057

Vehicle donation call 877-999-8322

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