By Michael Heins
Numerous volunteers along the Hi-Line who help others deal with personal crisis, domestic violence, and thoughts of suicide. They do their best to provide direction and a ray of hope for those in need.
From the earliest days of America's history, the spirit of volunteer service has been reflected in neighbors helping neighbors to overcome obstacles to the pursuit of happiness. The freedom and individual rights at the core of United States society come from the shared responsibility for the health and well being of our communities. For millions of American volunteers, volunteering is the key to healthy, fulfilling and meaningful lives. Volunteering is giving.
Two Havre volunteers who are among those to dedicate their time and lives to helping those in need through the HRDC Domestic Abuse Program are Sharon Skyberg and Tammy Pike.
Skyberg said she gives of her time and herself by taking calls for the crisis line.
"I worked for mental health for five years and, at that time, I saw an ad in the newspaper for volunteers for the crisis center about two years ago this next fall," she said. "We went through some training and procedural work dealing with helping suicidal people and what to do in helping them.
"I soon started on the crisis line and took calls. Depending on the call, a lot of times it is just someone who needs to talk to someone. Some of the calls are from people with suicidal tendencies or from someone who lost a friend to suicide and wants to talk to someone. I have taken two suicidal calls. Once I assisted in a call with a lady with suicidal tendency to have her committed."
"I enjoy using my skills to help other people. I hope I am a benefit for people who need me at the time. I don't feel obligated, but it's a desire to give back to the community," Skyberg said.
Some of the issues she deals with are people with:
Domestic abuse problems;
Mental health issues;
Need for shelter.
Pike talked about her experiences as a volunteer.
"I go to school, and I did community service as part of my school program at MSU-Northern," Pike said. "This was one of the programs that our instructor Kevin Brown lined the students with. I decided to stick with it after the program.
"I like the fact that I can help others and they don't know who they are talking to. Our names are kept confidential.
"I enjoy the Haven House and speaking with the women. The Haven House is a safe house for woman. I enjoy talking to the women they get lonely," she said.
Some of the challenges she faces are the calls themselves.
"Some of the phone calls I get I don't feel qualified to meet the people's needs. We deal with domestic violence calls both from men and women. Some of the calls are from spouses or boyfriends or girlfriends, sometimes it's just people looking for advice, women looking for shelter, or people trying to get an order of protection.
"I get the satisfaction that I can get in putting something back into the community. One of the hardest problems is picking up the phone because you don't know how you are going to deal with the call. It is not as hard as people would think, though; the words just come out," Pike said.
For information on volunteering, call the Domestic Abuse Program at 265-6743.