Six residents from Westfield and Scotch Plains completed training in December 2019 to become volunteers on the Caring Contact crisis hotline.

During the 52 hours of training the graduates developed the ability to listen actively, assess the needs of someone in crisis and provide empathy and support.  The training included dynamic and interactive presentations by guest experts in active listening, grief recovery, mental health issues and suicide intervention.  Volunteer Listener Training is taught by trainers who are long-time listeners and nationally certified instructors in Mental Health First Aid and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training.

“I trained to become a caring contact listener in an effort to connect with those that need to feel human connection in order to cope with whatever struggles they are going through whether it be mental health, family crisis, chronic physical pain or economic hardship,” stated Bisrat Mekbeb of Scotch Plains.  “I am fortunate to be in a position to give back to my community through Caring Contact in this way.” 

Sign Up for Mountainside Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

When asked why he was drawn to this work Ryan Hinderliter of Westfield said: “I wanted to channel my love for psychology and my passion for making a difference in the community into something meaningful.”

Caring Contact is an award-winning, volunteer-staffed crisis hotline and listening community that supports the Nation Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Located in Westfield, NJ they provide active listening support and best-in-class education to central and northern New Jersey.

The next volunteer training will begin March 17.  For more information about this training call 908-301-1899 or visit

Photo caption:
Pictured L to R:  Back row: Ryan Hinderliter (Westfield), Amit Trivedi, Michael Coleman, Shailesh Lal, Carolyn Paznek, Derek Cooke, Marc Julius, David Burman (Westfield), Charles Christophel.  Middle row: Laurie Feinberg (Caring Contact), Sarah Lindell (Scotch Plains), Sasha Singh, Ananya Jain, Kaelin Stoll, Kacie Neilson, Jaimie Radakovich, Larry Kornreich, Arlene Klemow (Caring Contact). Front row: Bisrat Mekbeb (Scotch Plains), Jasmine Dursun, Michelle Mendoza, Pam Webb, Kate Gorelick (Westfield), Payl Patel (Westfield).