Family violence hotline seeks volunteers
Wednesday, 19 September 2012 10:14

Service provides resources to violence victims

by Nicole Rodman

    As the economy continues to struggle, instances of domestic and family violence have risen both in Maryland and across the nation.
    In the Dundalk area alone, 2,320 cases of domestic violence were reported in 2011.
    At the Family Crisis Center of Baltimore County, which provides shelter and services to victims of domestic abuse, though 282 people received assistance, lack of space and resources forced the center to turn away 120 victims.
    As an overnight volunteer with the Family Crisis Center, and hotline manager for the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assualt Hotline, Terry Lee Blevins has been on the front lines, aiding victims of abuse for the past 23 years.
   

Though her work is tough, practically and emotionally, she finds great satisfaction from her work.
    “Working with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault has been a privilege to me,” she wrote in an e-mail last month.
    She explained, “To be able to offer services through our agencies and to see domestic violence victims grow and heal and able to leave and begin a life free of abuse at the shelter has been inspiring and makes me feel proud to be just a tiny part of it.”
    The 24-hour Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline is a telephone service in which victims of abuse and violence can call in to receive assistance and information on helpful resources around their area.
    The hotline, administered as part of the Baltimore County Department of Social Services’ Family Violence Unit, is staffed to a degree by volunteers.
    According to Blevins, the hotline is currently in “dire need” of volunteers to work the hotline’s 1 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. shifts.
    Volunteers will receive 30 hours of training before going to work for the hotline.
    Hotline volunteers generally work two 5-hour shifts each month. During a shift, volunteers assist callers in finding appropriate resources and services for their situation.
    All volunteers are screened prior to approval, undergoing reference and criminal background checks.
    Once approved, they are supervised by a licensed social worker. The social worker ultimately holds responsibility for the client.
    Successful volunteers may be eligible to receive community service hours or reference letters for college and job applications.
    With prior approval from the Baltimore County Public School Student Service Learning Coordinator, some students may even be able to earn class credits for their work at the hotline.
    For more information on volunteer opportunities with the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline, contact Tammy Cline at 410-853-3033.
    To reach the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline, call 410-828-6390.