Giving Back

Press Releases

Westfield-Based Caring Contact Recognizes Volunteer Listeners at Annual Dinner

Ashley Bambo (left), volunteer manager at crisis hotline Caring Contact, welcomes Dayle Moore (center) and Kristal Ras, two of the hotline's newest volunteer listeners.
James Stewart (left), Jim Lenox (center) and Robert John were recognized for reaching 2,000, 1,100 and 1,300 hours on the lines, respectively, as volunteer listeners.
Bambo and Janet Sarkos, Caring Contact's executive director, present Stanley Nash with a plaque honoring his late-wife, Edna, for her decade as a volunteer listener.

Caring Contact, the Westfield-based crisis hotline and listening community, recently celebrated its volunteer listeners and other supporters at its 42nd Annual Volunteer Recognition Night, held last week at Ferraro's of Westfield.

In addition to thanking their more than 100 volunteer listeners, Caring Contact also recognized four volunteers for milestones and welcomed its newest listeners. The hotline also recognized non-listening volunteers, such as board members, fundraisers and marketers.

Caring Contact is an award-winning, volunteer-staffed caring and crisis hotline and listening community, providing active listening support and best-in-class training to the Central and Northern New Jersey community. More than 100 trained volunteer listeners answered nearly 9,000 calls last year from people in crisis, having suicidal thoughts or simply feeling depressed and lonely.

Sign Up for E-News

Dayle Moore of Westfield and Kristal Ras of Livingston were welcomed as two of Caring Contact's newest listeners. Moore spent 55 years as a nurse and found she was bored after retiring. She tried delivering meals on wheels and teaching literacy classes to adults but did not feel fulfilled, she said. She volunteered at Caring Contact and has been on the phones since June, averaging about 20 hours per month.

"The part of nursing I loved the most was afterward when I could talk to the patients one-on-one," she said. "I feel that's what I'm getting now. It's very rewarding. When I listen and talk to the callers, I feel I can help them. I'm 76 years old and I have a lot of empathy inside. Sometimes when my shift is over I want to keep going because it's so rewarding."

Ras is a part-time hair stylist and college student studying forensic psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She also has been on the phones since June and averages eight hours per month, with an eye toward more.

"Mental illness runs in my family," she said. "Any way I can help, to be there and listen to someone in a time of need is more meaningful than I can say. It's very rewarding. If I have a week I'm not actually on the lines, I miss it."

Caring Contact recognized James Stewart of Roselle Park, Robert John of Westfield and Jim Lenox of Edison for reaching 2,000, 1,300 and 1,100 hours on the lines, respectively. John also serves as president of the hotline's board of directors. In addition, Caring Contact posthumously honored former listener Edna Nash for her more than 1,000 hours on the lines over her decade of volunteering.  

Hotline volunteer listeners are given 52 hours of training in empathetic and nonjudgmental active listening and mental health issues and attend a two-day intensive session on suicide intervention called ASIST, or Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training. Training is followed by an internship on the lines with experienced listeners.

"Our listeners are the heart of Caring Contact," said Janet Sarkos, the hotline's executive director. "Research shows that when a person is in crisis, having someone to talk to eases their distress, not only while they are on the call but for weeks afterward. We could not achieve all we do without our listeners."

Sarkos noted that the hotline's volunteers come from all age groups and backgrounds, including retirees, those working in a wide variety of careers and college students.

"At the same time, our other volunteers play vital roles, as well. Our board members provide the leadership necessary to operate an organization like this. Our fundraisers help raise the money that keeps our listeners on the lines. And our marketing volunteers make sure people know we're here for them. Once a year we celebrate them all and say thank you."

Anyone interested in volunteering at Caring Contact, either as a listener or in some other capacity, should visit

Caring Contact serves Central and Northern New Jersey and is a primary responder to calls to the national suicide prevention line (1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-SUICIDE) that originate in New Jersey. Callers also reach Caring Contact by dialing 908-232-2880. Those preferring to seek supporting through texting may text “heart” to 741-741. The hotline also provides best-in-class training to the Central and Northern New Jersey Community.

 If you are in crisis and need someone to listen, call us at 908-232-2880.To learn more, visit

About Caring Contact

Caring Contact is an award-winning, volunteer-staffed caring and crisis hotline providing active listening support and best-in-class education to the Central and Northern New Jersey community. We attentively and compassionately serve those in emotional distress and educate our communities about the power of personal connection. We are affiliated with CONTACT USA, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the American Association of Suicidology. If you are in crisis and need someone to listen, call us at 908-232-2880.To learn more, visit

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events


Wed, March 21, 2:00 PM

South Plainfield

Holy Savior Academy's 4th Annual Spring Splendor ...


Wed, March 21, 4:00 PM

Hannah Atkins Community Center, Plainfield

Homework Helper


Pre-Ticket Sale for Holy Savior Academy’s 4th Annual Spring Splendor Tricky Tray

Holy Savior Academy is hosting its Spring Splendor Tricky Tray Saturday, April 21, 2018 at the school.  Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

Tickets are limited and will be sold at Holy Savior Academy, 149 South Plainfield Avenue, South Plainfield on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. (cash or checks)

BYOB and food- Admission $ 25 per ...

NJ Assembly Democrats' Committees Meet Thurs, Green Sponsored 'Earned Sick Leave' Bill on Agenda

March 21, 2018

TRENTON, NJ – Equal pay for women, earned sick leave for New Jersey workers, three key gun safety bills, a bill package to address ongoing Trenton Water Works concerns, expanded medical marijuana, boosting the heat-and-eat program and protecting affordable health care highlight Thursday’s Assembly committee hearings.

Also on tap: clean wind energy, combating chronic student ...


March 17, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 16, 2018 – Despite her rhetoric, U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-12, failed Wednesday to deliver on her promise to make schools safer for our children.

The two-term congressperson was one of only 10 representatives that voted “nay” Wednesday afternoon on the STOP School Violence Act of 2018.

The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives on a ...

Retro Fitness in Manahawkin Calls Stafford Police to Remove Man for Praying for Another Member

March 21, 2018

STAFFORD, NJ - Retro Fitness club member and Long Beach Township resident Craig Fasler was escorted by a member of the Stafford Township Police Department out of the gym because an employee accused him of sharing his faith in public. 

TAPinto Stafford-LBI was contacted by a Stafford Township resident about the incident that took place on Wednesday, March 21 around ...

La tienda de comestibles Canela de Plainfield acogerá el evento de la tienda Healthy Corner

March 19, 2018

PLAINFIELD, NJ - EZ Ride y la ciudad de Plainfield se han asociado una vez más con Canela Grocery and Deli para organizar un evento gratuito para los residentes que ofrece muestras gratis de bocadillos saludables, cupones, una rifa saludable de canastas e información nutricional. Atlantic Health también estará en el evento con una unidad móvil para proporcionar ...

Celebrando el Mes de la Historia de la Mujer

PLAINFIELD, NJ - Estimados Plainfield,

Yo fui criado por dos mujeres poderosas e generosas, y me pasaron principios y valores que me han guiado durante mi vida entera. Mi mama persiguió la oportunidad y busco una manera de proveer para su familia. Ella dejo la isla de Barbados para poder trabajar en los hogares de los Estados Unidos, creando e allanando un camino para que sus hijos lo ...

Innovador Plainfield

Estimados Plainfield,


El crecimiento requiere evolución, la evolución implica cambio, y el cambio conduce a la innovación. Plainfield está evolucionando. Nos estamos adaptando para cumplir con los requisitos del renacimiento que está formando el futuro. No podemos esperar cambio positivo y sostenible si continuamos con el mismo ritmo de las ...

Distrito escolar de Plainfield anuncia ganadores de Feria de las Ciencias

PLAINFIELD, NJ - La Oficina de Tecnología, Ciencias e Instrucción de las Escuelas Públicas de Plainfield anunció a los ganadores de la Feria de Ciencias 2018, en una recepción celebrada el jueves 1 de marzo de 2018 en la Escuela Primaria Clinton.

Veintiocho de los 178 estudiantes en grados 4-12 recibieron los máximos honores después de presentar ...

'Trying' explores age, youth and points of history in poignant production

‘Trying’ explores youth, age and points of history in poignant production

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The George Street Playhouse presents an engrossing, two-character play based on the real life of Francis Biddle, former Attorney General.

Biddle, a Harvard educated lawyer, served under Franklin Roosevelt and later Harry Truman during the Nuremberg Tribunal. His ...

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Random House, 1965)


In Cold Blood is, quite simply, the grand-daddy of true crime writing, dubbed by Capote, himself, as the first non-fiction novel (although Norman Mailer argued the point when he published The Executioner's Song in 1979.) The conditions under which I read In Cold Blood for the first time were pretty weird, which was another ...

Ian Hockley Visits New Jersey to Introduce Program to Empower Youth

This week I am taking a departure from book reviewing to share an important program that has been introduced to New Jersey this week by Mr. Ian Hockley, founder of the Dylan's Wings of Change Foundation. On December 14, 2012, Hockley's five year old son, an autistic child named Dylan, was gunned down in his classroom in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Dylan, a shy and adorable ...

Lilli DeJong by Janet Benton

Lilli De Jong by Janet Benton (Doubleday, 2017)


“It's said that every woman's painful labor is God's punishment. Eve ate an apple, and God pours wrath on every mother. So the Bible tells it.” (p.320)

The story of Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden, which is the Biblical explanation for the extreme pains of childbirth, casts women in the role of ...

Prayers the Devil Answers by Sharyn McCrumb

Prayers the Devil Answers by Sharyn McCrumb (Altria, 2015)


Years later, after the tragedy, someone remembered the Dumb Supper and what had happened there. That was the cause of it, they said, because the ritual wasn't a game after all. It really was magic, but magic has rules, and she broke them. Even when they call it a 'senseless tragedy,' people always try to find a ...

Super Carb Diet by Bob Harper

Super Carb Diet by Bob Harper with Danny Pellegrino (St. Martin's Press, 2017)

It's hard to go on a serious diet, one on which you expect to be successful and maintain a loss. Fortunately, in his new book Super Carb Diet, Bob Harper has given the weight watching world a sensible new diet plan to help achieve a healthy weight.

Harper, host of NBC's popular show The Biggest Loser, ...

Two Nights by Kathy Reichs

Two Nights by Kathy Reichs (Bantom,2017)

How does a writer of a beloved series like Harry Potter or Temperance Brennan break out of their readers' expectations and try something new? For J.K. Rowlings it was the novels penned under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith; books about a maimed and very flawed private detective with the unlikely name of Cormoran Strike. For Kathy Reichs, it is the ...