Faye Melvin-Brown has been a volunteer crisis intervention counselor at Women in Transition for more than eight and a half years. In that time, Brown has been a calm and compassionate voice of hope for hundreds of women being abused by boyfriends and husbands, women struggling to get clean and sober and women working hard to make better lives for themselves and their children. Brown is an essential part of the lifeline that Women in Transition offers to women in danger.
One of Brown’s assets as a volunteer is her willingness to take the same late night shift every weekend—the midnight to 6 a.m. Saturday morning shift. Phone technology enables the transfer of the agency’s crisis hotline to a volunteer’s home phone number. When a woman in crisis dials the hotline number, the line rings at the volunteer’s house. As a telephone hotline counselor, Brown provides counseling, support, information and referrals to women who are victims of domestic violence, have addiction to drugs or alcohol or have general concerns in times of crisis.
The advanced technology makes it a little easier for volunteers to staff the hotlines, especially on weekends and late at night. Still, it is difficult for the agency to find volunteers willing to take a six-hour overnight shift from their homes because they never know what to expect when the phone rings. Nevertheless, since completing her training in April 1990, Brown has repeatedly taken this overnight shift. The agency’s staff can think of only a few cases of illness or emergency when Brown has not been able to take the line.
The staff has given Brown the nickname “Friday Night Faye” for her dedication to the late night shift. In spite of all the changes that have happened in her life, she has kept volunteering as a high priority. She has been an inspiration to other volunteers, staff, board members and the Philadelphia community.
“Faye Melvin-Brown is a true unsung hero: someone who gives of herself because she knows the need is there and she knows she can help,” remarked Patrice Gammon, Associate Director, Women in Transition, “She is an inspiration to other volunteers, to staff, to board members and to the Philadelphia community at large. We hardly know how to thank her enough.”