Have you ever been told you are a good listener? Do you have a yearning to really make a difference?

Caring Contact will be offering its 96th volunteer listening training beginning Sept. 16 through Dec. 16. Training will run once a week from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., plus one full weekend, Dec. 7 and 8 and will be held at the Newmark School, 1000 Cellar Ave, Scotch Plains.

Participants receive 52 hours of comprehensive training by nationally certified instructors in active listening and become certified in Mental Health First Aid and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training. Volunteers develop the ability to listen actively, assess the needs of someone in crisis and provide empathy and support. 

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"This training and volunteering opportunity is ideal for retirees, empty-nesters, stay-at-home parents," said Janet Sarkos, Caring Contact's executive director. "Many of our listeners were looking for something meaningful to do after they retired or their children left home.

"They find that volunteering at Caring Contact not only gives them something to do with their new-found freedom but also gives them a sense of reward when they help someone in crisis.  Fulltime professionals also participate, finding the flexible volunteer hours work well with their work obligations.”

Following training, new volunteer listeners are supported by seasoned listeners during 24 hours of internship before they take calls on their own. Even once a volunteer is a certified listener, the hotline provides a range of support and training opportunities to allow them to keep honing their skills.

Anyone interested in registering for the training should visit http://caringcontact.org/volunteer-listener-application/.

Caring Contact is an award-winning, volunteer-staffed 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 over 10,000 calls last year from people in crisis, having suicidal thoughts or simply feeling depressed and lonely.

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