‘My volunteer experience has been so rewarding’
‘My volunteer experience has been so rewarding. I enjoy knowing that I can make a difference in people’s lives. That I can help them to avert a crisis by providing information, empathy or simply listening.’ says Clair Bowman
Clair Bowmen was among the first group of volunteers to join the new Distress Line Program when it had been acquired by Family Counselling & Support Services for Guelph Wellington (FCSSGW) in January of 2020. Clair was completing an internship and working towards finishing a Master of Social Work program during this time. She had a focused interest in working with clients that were not comfortable or unable to access in-person services. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic made the challenge of supporting distressed community members even more difficult. Clair witnessed the Distress Line Program grow during the pandemic into the much-needed service that it has become. She noted that volunteering from home can be isolating without in-person contact, but the staff and volunteers at FCSSGW are extremely supportive to enable the volunteers to manage effectively.
The Distress Line is a free, anonymous, and confidential service designed for anyone in the Guelph and Wellington community who is experiencing any form of distress. Trained volunteers provide emotional support through active listening and empathy. Volunteers work to promote goal and safety-planning and assist callers in connecting with other community resources. This service operates between 8 am – 10 pm, 7 days per week. Call 1-888-821-3760 if you need support.
‘Clair remains a consistent and effective volunteer during this trying time (COVID-19) when everything is rapidly changing, and fellow community members are struggling to adapt’ says Colten Ura, Distress Line Lead, FCSSGW.
Since joining the program, Clair picked up additional volunteer shifts to provide more support to our community. She helped calm anxiety in community members by ensuring they had the most up to date health & safety information regarding the pandemic, while also providing emotional support during a time where many people were isolated.
Clair notes one of her highlight moments was a call that ended with both her and the client genuinely laughing together. ‘I think of that client often as a reminder of the connection that can occur over the phone when you genuinely care’ says Clair.
‘This is a well-deserved award. Clair has done tremendous work for the program since the early stages of the pandemic and her consistency since then is much appreciated.’ says Colten.
FCSSGW has other supportive services as well, such as the TeleConnect Line (an outbound call service designed to support those struggling with independent living) or quick access, no appointment needed, Walk-In/Virtual Mental Health Clinics in Mount Forest, Harriston, Guelph and Fergus.
Learn more about FCSSGW, how to connect to program or to make a donation, visit familyserviceguelph.on.ca