August 4, 2003 - Honduras RPCV Melissa Bridges is Hispanic outreach coordinator for Crisis Center

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Honduras: Peace Corps Honduras: The Peace Corps in Honduras: August 4, 2003 - Honduras RPCV Melissa Bridges is Hispanic outreach coordinator for Crisis Center

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Honduras RPCV Melissa Bridges is Hispanic outreach coordinator for Crisis Center

Read and comment on this story from about Honduras RPCV Melissa Bridges and her work as Hispanic outreach coordinator for Crisis Center in Springdale Arkansas at:

The Crisis Center Needs Help*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

The Crisis Center Needs Help
Mon, Aug 4, 2003

Hotlines Need Bilingual Volunteers

By Jeff Smith

The Morning News/

SPRINGDALE, ARKANSAS -- Es duro traduciendo pensamientos y sensaciones a inglés.

For Spanish speakers, it's hard enough to call a stranger for help. It's even harder if they have to translate their thoughts and emotions into English.

The Crisis Center uses a third-party translator to help Spanish speakers with a variety of problems from thoughts of suicide to rape and domestic battery.

People are able to receive better help through one-on-one conversations, said Ruthanne Hill, executive director of the center.

"(Sharing emotions) is more likely to happen in the same language," she said.

So the statewide crisis-intervention center has developed a Spanish-language hotline designed to give help to the area's large Hispanic population in their own language.

The center needs bilingual volunteers to answer calls on its new Spanish hotline and the three hotlines already in operation.

Once the center has enough volunteers, staff members said, they will announce the number and publicize the unique service.

Non-English speakers can call The Crisis Center's three lines and receive help through a translator.

The center won't drop the translating service that handles phone calls in more than 50 languages.

Latinos constituted 145 of the center's 10,060 calls in 2002 and 77 of the 3,271 received by July 1 this year. But center officials are more concerned with those who didn't call.

Melissa Bridges spent the past two years in the Peace Corps in Honduras.

"That was a big part of the community here that wasn't being serviced by the lines," said Melissa Bridges, the center's new Hispanic outreach coordinator.

She said there's a huge cultural difference because Hispanics keep their problems private.

Also, the heavily Catholic community views suicide as a mortal sin, which condemns a person to hell. The center specializes in suicide prevention.

Bilingual volunteers are needed to work a minimum of a four-hour shift and attend monthly in-service training. The center has only one bilingual volunteer.

"To me, it is so important to have someone on that line that speaks your language," Bridges said.

Bilingual speakers are needed because they can help answer the center's other lines and also because the paperwork -- and other staff members who might help them -- use only English.

The center staff then plans to advertise the number and go into the community and encourage Spanish speakers to use the hotline, said Bridges, who spent the past two years in the Peace Corps in Honduras.

The center also answers after-hours calls to the Project for Victims of Family Violence and is operational 24 hours a day all year long.

Besides the three hotlines, the center also sponsors support groups for survivors of suicide attempts and a group for friends and family of people who committed suicide.

The Crisis Center started in 1985 after three teens committed suicide in Benton County.

To volunteer, call the center at 756-1995.

Los voluntarios bilingües de las necesidades del centro de la crisis a ayudar a contestar a llamadas telefónicas de altavoces españoles. Para ofrecerse voluntariamente, satisfacer la llamada 756-1995.

The Crisis Center needs bilingual volunteers to help answer phone calls from Spanish speakers. To volunteer, call 756-1995. Once the center has enough volunteers, it will begin a Spanish crisis-intervention hotline. The center has three other hotlines that operate around the clock.

Adult crisis hotline: (888) 274-7472

Teen crisis hotline: (800) 798-8336

Phone-friend help line: (888) 723-3225

TTY for the hearing-impaired: (800)393-9667

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