Caring Contact, the Westfield-based crisis hotline and listening community, last night honored their outgoing executive director, Joanne Oppelt, and named Janet Sarkos interim executive director.
Oppelt has been Caring Contact's executive director since 2011. During her tenure leading the hotline and listening community her accomplishments have included: increasing profit margin by an average of 7 percent annually, money that was reinvested in programs and expansion; increasing assets six fold; increasing the number of calls taken annually by 20 percent; expanding suicide prevention and awareness and mental health training within the community; and building strategic community partnerships.
Prior to joining Caring Contact Oppelt served as development director for Community Access Unlimited (CAU), a nonprofit human services agency serving people with disabilities and at-risk youth. She is returning to CAU as assistant executive director of business development.
"I want to show appreciation for how Joanne put her heart and soul into leading Caring Contact over the last five years," said Bob John, president of Caring Contact's board of trustees. "Also, that we wish her well in her new position at Community Access and at the same time we are pleased she has committed to remain a part of our listening community."
The board named Sarkos interim executive director pending a search for a permanent replacement for Oppelt. Sarkos has been a Caring Contact listener since 2014. Most recently, she was the chief operating officer of Chervo USA, an Italian golf clothing brand, and her broader professional experience includes marketing and public relations consulting.
Sarkos currently serves vice president of the board of trustees of The Westfield Foundation. She also has 10 years of fundraising and leadership experience in Westfield's parent teacher organizations.
"I would like to express how happy we are that one of our talented volunteers has stepped up to take on the role of the interim executive director and that we have confidence in her ability to lead us through a smooth transition," John said.
Caring Contact is an award-winning, volunteer-staffed crisis hotline and listening community providing active listening support and best-in-class education to the Central and Northern New Jersey community. More than 200 volunteer listeners attentively and compassionately serve those in emotional distress, answering more than 12,000 calls per year from people in crisis, having suicidal thoughts or simply feeling depressed and lonely. Caring Contact also educates communities about the power of personal connection.
If you are in crisis and need someone to listen, call them at 908-232-2880. To learn more, visit www.caringcontact.org.
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer listener or volunteer of other kind at Caring Contact should visit http://caringcontact.org/give-support/volunteer/.
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. Caring Contact also provides best-in-class training to the Central and Northern New Jersey Community.
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 www.caringcontact.org.