Are you currently accepting volunteer applications?
Yes, we accept applications year round.
Is there an age requirement?
All volunteers are required to be at least 18 years old.
What are you looking for in a Text Line Volunteer?
The ideal Text Line Volunteer will be someone interested in the youth and young adult populations, and the issues that affect them. A baseline ability to identify feelings in oneself and others, and to empathize, is important, and a deep respect and regard for people in all walks of life.
Can I answer texts from home or off-site*?
CSS is a hybrid style agency. We have implemented technology that can allow counselors to continue to work confidentially and remotely on a hybrid basis. Volunteers are expected to attend one 4 hour shift at our call center on the 3rd full week every month. The intention is to build community and rapport within our team.
Can I volunteer from out-of-state or outside of the United States?*
For the same reasons listed above, you must be able to commute to our site to volunteer with us once per month. If you are interested in learning about crisis lines in your area, please go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website and click on Crisis Center/Center Locator to search by state. You can also check with your county. Most counties in the United States have Behavioral/Mental Health Departments, and they might have information on crisis lines in your area.
Where are you located?
We are in Oakland, CA, and conveniently located near Ashby BART station We have on-site parking and secure bike parking. The specific details of our site location are confidential.
Do I need to have counseling experience to volunteer?
No experience necessary. We have an extensive training program to prepare you to take texts.
What does training for the Text Line look like?
The training lasts for 3-4 months and consists of two major components – in-class lectures/discussions and individual shifts with trainer on the text line:
- The in class component either occurs on Saturdays and Sundays several times a month, from 9 AM-4 PM with a one-hour break for lunch (large cohort model) OR on weekday evenings from 6:30 pm-9:30 pm on Mon/Wed or Tues/Thurs. Additional workshops may be added during the week to supplement class training. Please request current schedules by email for up-to-date information.
- The one-on-one training is once a week for four hours. We will work with your schedule to pair you with a trainer. While working with your trainer, you will be taking texts and practicing all the tools and theory you learn in the classes.
Training topics include, but are not limited to, motivational interviewing, suicide assessment and safety planning, and counselor self-care and self-awareness. Once trained there will be ongoing learning, including access to individual support and supervision.
What is the time commitment after completing training?
In total we ask that you volunteer for a minimum of 60 total shifts, working one 4 hour shift per week. Shifts can be scheduled between 8 am and 12 am. The 60 shift commitment includes your on-shift training time. Naturally, we expect that you’ll take vacations or need time off, so a total of 60 shifts is the benchmark for completing your commitment, and any missed shifts can be made up.
What are some of the Text Line Volunteer duties?
While on shift, volunteers will work as part of a team and have the support of a shift supervisor and other counselors while they are taking texts. We use online platforms to engage with texters – this means we are on a computer and not exhausting our thumbs on a tiny screen!
Thank you again for your interest!