THE VOLUNTEERS OF COMMUNITY CRISIS SERVICES, INC.

Daily Point of Light # 2419 May 14, 2003

Community Crisis Services, Inc. (CCSI) is the home of the Prince George’s County Hotline. It was founded by volunteers in 1970 and operates several needed community services. Volunteers are the core of the organization and are involved at each level of leadership. The American Association of Suicidology since 1985 and a member of the Maryland Information and Referral Providers Council have accredited CCSI since 2001. In addition, they are active in the Prince George’s County Volunteer Coordinators Association also.

The volunteers of CCSI fulfill a vital role for the citizens of Prince George’s County both on a daily basis and during times of community-wide crisis. CCSI operated the County’s Critical Incident Call Center upon request of the Office of the County Executive. The Call center was created at CCSI’s headquarters in 1999.

The primary function of the Call Center is to provide non-urgent information and support to the public during times of community-wide crisis. Prior to the creation of the Call Center the operators of 911 and the police department handled such calls. This took up their valuable time and resources. CCSI is much better equipped to assist these callers who primarily seek “rumor control” information and supportive listening during frightening times.

The Call Center initially was a minor component of the organization. It was merely a courtesy provided to the community with the help of volunteers. This, however, changed on September 11, 2001. Suddenly it was necessary for them to be available 24-hours a day as a source of support and information. Their existence became vital to the community of Prince George’s County. On September 11th, CCSI volunteers simply showed up knowing their help will be needed and yearning to help those in need.

In the months since the terrorist attach, CCSI has gained increased recognition and visibility. Both the county government and the public have utilized the Call Center. CCSI, with the help of the volunteers has operated the Tornado Hotline, Anthrax Hotline, West Nile Virus Hotline and the Sniper Hotline.

During the operation of the Prince George’s County Sniper Hotline, the staff and volunteers of CCSI responded to an excess of 530 calls during the course of two weeks. CCSI would not have been able to provide this vital function without the dedication of the 40 volunteers. Providing this service was in addition to handling the 110 calls received on a typical day.

The vision of CCSI is to strive to provide comprehensive crisis services that are efficient, accessible, responsible and fully integrated into the community. They exist to serve their community with prompt, non-judgmental and comprehensive response to crises, with the goal of supporting increased stability and coping skills through prevention, intervention, postvention, information and referral.

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