Helpline reaches out to the troubled and the lonely alike

AMORY – Thanks to CONTACT Helpline, Carmen Montgomery receives a call every morning from someone who just wants to make sure she is doing all right.
“A lot of times we get into conversations and talk for 20 or 30 minutes. It’s just wonderful,” Montgomery said.
It was six years ago, during a visit from volunteers at the United Way of Greater Monroe county, that Montgomery first heard about CONTACT Helpline.
“I was getting Meals on Wheels and the young people who came to deliver that day also brought me flowers and told me about the service.”
The service is called Reassurance CONTACT and is offered to seniors, disabled persons and other home-bound individuals who live alone. Through Reassurance CONTACT, clients receive a daily call to check on their safety and well-being.
This free service was established five years ago and currently serves approximately 300 people in the Choctaw, Clay, Lowndes, Monroe, Oktibbeha, Noxubee, Webster and Winston counties, as well as several counties in Tennessee.
“We are always looking for others who need us and we will visit any program or church to better inform the public of our services,” said Reassurance coordinator Ester Hayden.
CONTACT Helpline began in 1975 and is a free, confidential helpline ran by volunteers.
“We are not non-judgmental. We’re just here to listen, not give advice. Callers usually work through their problems while they’re on the phone with us just by talking about them,” Hayden said.
One of the most disturbing phone calls Hayden has received in her 30 years of service was from a child.
“He said he was four years old and was talking about suicide. We don’t know how he knew to call our number and never heard from him again. Since it’s anonymous, we had no way of following up on the call,” Hayden said.
The volunteers at CONTACT assess the level of danger they feel is present when an adult calls and will try to get the person to agree not to harm themselves without calling them back.
CONTACT Helpline receives roughly 60 calls a day from people dealing with everything from thoughts of harming themselves to unwanted pregnancies to bullying. While the volunteers do not give advice, they do refer clients to other services that can help with counseling services and advice regarding housing and rent.
In order to receive services from Reassurance CONTACT, clients must go through an application process which includes two contacts. Everyday someone from CONTACT will call the client and, if there is no answer, will also call the two back-up contacts. If no communication has been established then, CONTACT will notify the sheriff’s department and a deputy will be dispatched to check on the client.
To find out more about Contact Reassurance, call 328-0200 and leave a return number, or call the office line at 327-2968.

EMILY TUBB/MONROE JOURNALHELPLINE – Carmen Montgomery of Amory is uses the CONTACT Helpline, a service that makes a daily call to check on its users.

HELPLINE – Carmen Montgomery of Amory is uses the CONTACT Helpline, a service that makes a daily call to check on its users.