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Townhall II Helpline’s Lasting Impression

Over Labor Day weekend, former Townhall II Helpline volunteers traveled to Kent from as far away as New Mexico and the Caribbean to reunite with fellow volunteers they had not seen in decades. For over 45 years, volunteers have staffed the 24 hour helpline to offer support to anybody in crisis who called in.

Volunteers must complete a vigorous and intense 80 hour training that included skills such as listening and communication, suicide intervention, rape crisis intervention, and recovery & addiction education.

A highlight of the weekend was a panel discussion featuring the Helpline’s founders and Townhall II leaders. The panel included Dr. Richard Rynearson and Dr. Hal Beyer who were instrumental in beginning the Helpline and Townhall II; Guenveur Burnell past Director of Helpline Training; Rich Fennig, Townhall II's Administrative Director in 1971; and Sue E. Whitehurst who has been Townhall II’s Executive Director for the past 20 years.

Former helpline volunteers shared the positive impact helpline training has had both on their lives and their careers. Many identified the training as the most significant education in their lives -- something they continue to use to this day. The affects of Helpline’s small group of pioneers has rippled across many states and countries improving the lives of countless people beyond KSU and Kent. Helpline’s founders were equally emotional, and overwhelmed to learn this.

Helpline is funded by the Mental Health & Recovery Board.

Townhall II’s Helpline is still located in Kent and supported by volunteers. If you or someone you care about is struggling, concerned for a loved, or doesn’t know where to go for help, call 330.678.HELP (4357)

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