A Kind Voice – A Hope Hotline
A Kind Voice is a startup network of volunteers who are available to talk to people who need to make a connection, to have a conversation, or to find a sympathetic ear. They are not a crisis hotline, but rather a service for people who feel disconnected, lonely, or frustrated. The volunteers at A Kind Voice listen without judgment—helping people work through their issues without giving advice.
“I will be a kind voice for you, and then someday, when I really need it, you can be a kind voice for me.”
It is a simple concept. It is also essential. In a world where people have a deeper relationship with their cell phone than they have with their neighbors, days of silence can accumulate for some of us, creating a pervasive underlying despair that seems impossible to defeat. David Levins, founder of A Kind Voice, created an organization that can defeat despair through human contact, a sympathetic ear, and an unstoppable desire to connect. A Kind Voice connects people who need to talk with people who love to listen—and who are good at it.
“We started building it in September and went live in November,” Levins said. “We are completely self-funded and are taking it one step at a time. We want to build up credibility.”
Levins makes it very clear that A Kind Voice is a not a crisis hotline. “When people call our 800 number, the very first option is to be connected to a crisis hotline. We do not help people in crisis because that is not our mission. What we do is make a kind voice available. We do not give advice, we help people connect and work through a situation without telling them what to do.” Callers can talk about a movie they loved, current events, or their favorite television show. They can have a conversation about anything or nothing. What is important is the connection.
Levins continues, “Our goal is to create a web of kind voices, so that one is available anywhere, at any time. Sometimes, if a kind voice and sympathetic ear are available, it can put someone’s life on a whole different trajectory. It can give people hope and make it so they don’t act out of fear and despair.”
The calls are free and the volunteers are people with nice voices and a pleasant disposition—people with kindness in their hearts. Often they have experience working crisis hotlines. A Kind Voice trains volunteers through role-play—a new candidate works with an experienced counselor, trading roles between caller and listener. One time you are the caller, the next time you are the listener; one time you are gregarious and conversational, the next time you are venting.
A Kind Voice has shown promise with calls trending upward every month. “If we weren’t there, these callers would have no one to reach out to until they were in full-blown crisis. We are preventative. We have made many referrals to crisis services, helping people get in touch with appropriate services, which we feel very good about that. To me, every person we help is a success story,” shares Levins.
“In a sense, we inhabit the same eco-system as SAMHSA. People feel disconnected, they seek solace in drugs and other hurtful things, and life goes downhill. But now they have the alternative to pick up the phone and talk to a kind voice.”
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