talk runs training sessions in the fall, summer and the winter. You will be contacted for a phone interview, and if the recruiter feels like we're a good fit for you, you'll be asked to come in for a face-to-face interview, after which you may be invited to join the next training session.
The training session is, for most, the most time-intensive period at TALK, typically involving a 1-2 day commitment a week for a month. While this may seem like a lot, we're giving you the tools to make sure you'll never pick up the phone and not know what to say!
Volunteering with TALK is very rewarding - many of our volunteers have found they like helping people and have gone on to pursue careers in public health, medicine, psychology, and social sciences. Our volunteers are community members, students, retirees, teachers. TALK is a friendly, accepting, and caring environment, not only for our callers, but for volunteers too. We will do our best to make sure you feel comfortable, safe, and happy when you volunteer with us.
However, volunteering is not for everybody. Before you call to sign up, ask yourself the following questions:
Do I have the time?
Volunteers must be able to commit to 12 hours a month, for a minimum of a year. If you go away for the summer, or are away for part of the year, that is generally alright, if you are going to come back after. Our hours run from 7pm-3am during the business year, so you will be asked to give up about an evening a week, though our scheduling system is very flexible, and you will be able to choose your shifts.
Am I open-minded?
People call TALK from a huge variety of backgrounds and life experiences, some of which you may not personally agree with. One of our core beliefs is self-determination, which allows a person to decide for his or herself, even if you might not agree with his or her opinion or course of action.
Both our callers and volunteers are very diverse groups and you will be expected to help maintain an atmosphere that is safe for both callers and volunteers regardless of age, religion, culture, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
With the right training, do I think I will be able to handle a call with a person who is feeling like ending his or her life?People do call TALK when they are feeling like they might hurt themselves. Before you pick up the phone, you will undergo an intensive 40 hour training session where you will be able to practice skills to help you deal with any call. Suicide, self-harm, abuse, and other tough topics come up frequently on our lines. We do our best to make sure you are supported, but you need to know how to look after yourself as well.
Why do I want to do this?
We are looking for people who are dedicated to the ideals of respect, empowerment, and non-judgmental listening. TALK is one of the few places you will get to volunteer that will give you experience on the front lines, helping people. You will gain skills and knowledge that will last you a lifetime.
TALK does write reference letters, but only after 6 months of productive involvement shifting on the lines. If you are simply looking for a reference for a job or school, you may find yourself frustrated putting in so many hours for a letter. If you are looking to get involved, make a difference, meet some fantastic people, and surprise yourself with your abilities, then please call!