Contact Altoona, Blair County's only 24-hour telephone helpline, will begin its spring training program April 1.
The program will run for five weeks. Classes are held twice a week with local professionals teaching classes of basic and advanced listening skills, understanding the elderly and helping people find information. The classes are free.
More than 30 years ago, Contact Altoona began as a free telephone service, providing a voice of encouragement and hope to those who sometimes have nobody to talk to. Helpline volunteers answer calls every day from people who need information on how to acquire social services in the area and from people who just need someone to talk to. The Reassurance Call program started later, where Contact Altoona volunteers make telephone calls to those who request to be called. Elderly citizens and shut-ins all across Blair County have been receiving this type of call for years.
"We have over 70 helpline volunteers now and they do a fantastic job," said Terriann Grove, Contact Altoona executive director.
"But we are always after more volunteers. Our number of calls continues to grow each year and our Reassurance Program has expanded, too. We can use all the volunteers we can get." Once the volunteer completes the training program, they are put with a veteran volunteer until the new volunteer feels comfortable in working by themselves. Volunteers can select what shift they want to work, so they can plan their schedules around their work and daily activities. A call forwarding system also allows the volunteer to work a shift from their home.
For more information, call the Contact administrative offices between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays at 946-0531.