I was a volunteer crisis counselor for several years at San Francisco Suicide Prevention. They are the oldest crisis hotline in the U.S.
They train their volunteers extremely well in order for them to be helpful to callers. As a counselor, you can't really ask for a role that gives you more direct impact on helping people improve their lives. They really respect all their clients and convey that mindset to their volunteers. They are also doing extremely important work - filling key gaps where the U.S. mental health system is falling down on the job. They also provide a great training ground for many MFTs.
I've also found they are extremely frugal with their money - not spending where they don't need to. So, a very large portion of the money going into SFSP is funneled directly into program activities.
I have contacted SFSuicide through their online chat and email services, quite a bit actually. I recently discovered about my chronic - turning clinical depression, and things have turned bad. They were really supportive through the chats, and we talked. There was no judgement, so I felt I could really let it out. They're also available 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, so 40 hours, wow. I love how I can contact them right after school if something has happened.
The emails I received weren't just "It's going to be alright." They actually read what I wanted to say. They asked me questions and about possibilities.
I love you guys. :] I have supported in any way a teenager can (not by donating, sadly. :P But someday, if I make it).
I have the honor of serving as a vice president on the board of San
Francisco Suicide Prevention. As the oldest suicide hotline in the US,
this organization has become the model for over 500 similar services
across the country.
What is truly unusual about SFSP is its leverage of resources. Ten
staff members coordinate the work of 100 local volunteers who help
over 10,000 individuals with problems ranging from suicide to
homelessness, hunger, AIDS, and addictions.
The agency is contacted by phone or computer over 70,000 times each year. Yet they subsist on a budget of less than $750,000. They can accept donations through their website, sfsuicide.org or by texting "TALK" to 20222 on a cell phone for an instant $10 donation.