How to Volunteer

Become A Volunteer Crisis Line Counselor
Become A Volunteer Crisis Line Counselor

​The Alachua County Crisis Center is training for Volunteer Crisis Line Counselors.  The training includes 60 hours of in-depth training in active listening, crisis intervention, and suicide prevention.

Winter on-line training starts Saturday, June 5th.  For more information contact Janet Greene at 352-264-6782 or

Crisis Center Volunteers
Crisis Center Volunteers

​Crisis Center Volunteers represent a very diverse cross-section of the community - students, professionals, business owners, homemakers, teachers, retirees and so on. They range in age from 20 to 60+, male and female, with varying degrees of experience, backgrounds and training. Volunteers have in common a desire to help others, a willingness to give of themselves, and an investment of their time, energy and emotions in an endeavor they believe is worthwhile.

Volunteer Phone Counselors are trained to respond with confidence in an empathetic, caring manner. Empathy and caring are expressed from the first words of greeting spoken by the Crisis Counselor to the closing of the call. The Crisis Counselor is trained to be sufficiently knowledgeable of the referral information and references utilized by the Center. By the time a volunteer candidate becomes a Phone Counselor, they have been deemed capable of performing these duties with minimal assistance.  However, the Volunteer is never alone in the system. There are layers of supervision and support. A Volunteer knows they can quickly and easily consult with supervisors at the Center.  In fact, there are circumstances under which the Volunteer should always consult as a matter of policy.

Being a Volunteer Crisis Phone Counselor can be one of the most rewarding and enlightening experiences a person can have. It provides an excellent opportunity for personal growth, increased self-awareness, and improved sensitivity to others.​

Potential Volunteer Characteristics
Potential Volunteer Characteristics

Regardless of education and experience, a person seeking crisis intervention training should have the following characteristics:

  • A desire to help people and the potential to empathically understand others;
  • A desire to engage with callers who may be in extreme emotional distress;
  • The ability to think logically and to demonstrate mature judgment;
  • The ability to cooperate with co-workers and work as part of the Crisis Center team;
  • A willingness to spend the time required for pre-service training, in-service training, and providing crisis intervention once trained;
  • An ability to be discrete and an absence of the need to proselytize while functioning as a crisis worker;
  • An appreciation for the complexity of human dilemmas and avoidance of pat, simplistic solutions;
  • An ability to accept supervision and support; and
  • A stable personality with a balance of optimism and realism.​ 
Volunteer Pre-Requisites
Volunteer Pre-Requisites

Prior to training, a potential trainee must fall within the following guidelines:

  • Minimum age 20 preferred
  • Within six months prior to beginning the training process, it is preferred that trainee not have made a suicide attempt, had a major crisis in their life or been a client of the Crisis Center;
  • Have a genuine desire and willingness to help people who are in need;
  • Does not require a high school diploma, college degrees, or special certification

Immediately following successfully completing the Alachua County Crisis Center Phone Training, including observation and supervised shifts, the new volunteer will:

  • Sign the Confidentiality Agreement;
  • Commit to 24 regularly scheduled volunteer phone counselor shifts (usually over a period of approximately six months);
  • Attend any required in-service training;
  • Follow Code of Ethics adopted by the Alachua County Crisis Center;
  • Follow all Operating and Scheduling procedures.
​Apply to Become a Volunteer
​Apply to Become a Volunteer

Contact the Training Coordinator, Janet Greene, at 352/264-6782 if you need to find out more details.

Submit a completed application. To apply, please apply online. If you experience issues with the on-line application process, please request a hard copy of the Crisis Center Volunteer Application by email to  If you need help, please contact Janet by email: or call her at 352-264-6782.

Occasionally, a short face to face interview is required.

However not all applicants, motivated as they may be, will make effective crisis counselors. Applicants are carefully screened before and during training.

Complete Crisis Center Training
Complete Crisis Center Training

The Crisis Center is founded on the premise, demonstrated through research, that well trained volunteers are as effective as professionals.

Candidates are required to attend and graduate from our Training Program. The online Training Program runs three times a year (typically beginning in May, September, and January) for seven weeks. Online training usually consists of one half-day Saturday (12 noon - 4p.m.) followed by seven weeks of live, online training on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 9:30 P.M. (Along with required asynchronous/recorded lectures to be viewed individually).

Purpose: The training program is designed to provide each person with adequate skills to perform effectively on the phone. Sessions are arranged in logical progression, in a manner consistent with the goals of the course. Two four-hour observation shifts are also required. Here, trainees have the opportunity to experience the realities of telephone counseling. It is a time for learning about community resources, of actual phone-room activities, and for observation and listening. Additionally, three supervised shifts follow graduation, which allow trainees to perform the duties of the Phone Counselor with the support and coaching of experienced Volunteers.

Participation: This training is not academic. It is an experience based environment where the trainees practice and refine new skills.  Role plays are used extensively to present crisis scenarios for trainees to develop their skills.  It demands investment, risk taking, and openness to feedback. It is very rigorous. It is very rewarding.

Evaluation: The class is a time to determine whether the trainee’s needs and skills are compatible with the Center's needs and skill requirements.  Trainees are evaluated on the acquisition of the skills being taught. Trainees are evaluated on their ability to receive feedback; consult effectively; take and utilize direction competently.

We run a twenty-four hour, seven days a week, suicide emergency hotline. Therefore the training process will mirror our realities:

Attendance: Missing shifts is detrimental to our emergency response role and thus is not acceptable. The training class is the same. There is a lot of vital information and practice time built into a very short training class. Therefore missing more than one class is rarely permitted. Failing to notify us if there is a schedule conflict is not permitted.

Promptness: If you are late for a shift your duties are still on the shoulders of the phone counselor from the shift before yours. Being late for shifts is unacceptable. Being late for training is unacceptable.


Due to Florida's very broad public records law, most written communications to and from Alachua County employees are public records, and available to the public and media upon request.  This means email communication with the Crisis Center may be subject to public disclosure and therefore, not confidential.

If any accommodations are needed for persons with disabilities, please contact the Equal Opportunity Office at (352) 374-5275 or (352) 374-5284 TDD


  • Crisis Center
  • John Henry Thomas, M.D. Center
  • 218 SE 24th Street
  • Gainesville, FL 32641
  • Phone: 352-264-6789
  • TDD/TTY: 352-955-2449

Numbers Available 24/7

  • Crisis Line

    National Suicide Hotline

    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

    Nacional de Prevencion del Suicidio

    Rumor Control

Staff Contact Information

  • Alexandra Martinez, Ed.S., LMFT
  • Director
  • John Henry Thomas, M.D. Center
  • Phone: 352-264-6792
  • Fax: 352-264-6703
  • TDD/TTY users, please call 711 (Florida Relay Service)
  • Janet Greene, Ed.S., LMHC
  • Training Coordinator
  • John Henry Thomas, M.D. Center
  • Phone: 352-264-6782​
  • TDD/TTY users, please call 711 (Florida Relay Service)
  • Kevin Sosa, Ed.S.
  • Project Coordinator
  • John Henry Thomas, M.D. Center
  • Phone: 352-264-6781
  • TDD/TTY users, please call 711 (Florida Relay Service)
  • Ashley Bobroff
  • Volunteer Coordinator
  • John Henry Thomas, M.D. Center
  • Phone: 352-264-6779
  • TDD/TTY users, please call 711 (Florida Relay Service)
  • Melissa Justis, Ed.S.
  • Clinical Community Specialist
  • John Henry Thomas, M.D. Center
  • Phone: 352-264-6780
  • TDD/TTY users, please call 711 (Florida Relay Service)
  • Ariel Drescher, Ed.S.
  • Case Coordinator
  • John Henry Thomas, M.D. Center
  • Phone: 352-264-6761
  • TDD/TTY users, please call 711 (Florida Relay Service)
  • Amanda DiLorenzo-Garcia, Ed.S.
  • MRT Coordinator
  • John Henry Thomas, M.D. Center
  • Phone: 352-264-6791
  • TDD/TTY users, please call 711 (Florida Relay Service)