By William Crooks
Local Journalism Initiative
Secours Amitié, a local phone helpline organization based in Sherbrooke, is looking for more volunteers to man their phoneline, and financial aid. Their mission is to provide a confidential and anonymous service, in French, for those who need someone to listen to them concerning any issue at all. Secours Amitié employees Sandy Brouillard, Rachelle Lessard, and Micheal Joseph, and volunteer David Alonso manned a kiosk in Jacques-Cartier Park to inform the public about their service and recruit volunteers Oct. 24.
“September 25th, Secours Amitié launched its annual fundraising campaign,” explained Lessard, and them having a kiosk in the park is a continuation of that project. Many have not heard of their service, so they want to bring it to the public. It is a great day to do it, she went on, since it is ‘Journée de l’écoute’, a day set aside in the province for this very purpose.
Secours Amitié has received 10,500 calls so far this year and needs more volunteers to respond to the public’s need for a listening ear. “We need the public’s help to keep this service alive,” Lessard insisted. Their financial campaign aims to raise $20,000 over the next year; they have raised $3,000 so far. It takes a lot more than that to maintain the quality of their service, with expenses such as recruitment and training that need to be covered.
There are currently 54 volunteers working their phoneline, and they are looking for 30 more. Their phoneline is open from 8 a.m. in the morning to 3 a.m. at night, 365 days a year. Each volunteer is meant to work four hours a week. If they meet their new volunteer goal, they will be able to serve twice as many people – nearly 20,000 calls.