HelpLine of Delaware and Morrow Counties was formed in 1996 with the merger of Help Anonymous of Delaware County and HopeLine of Morrow County. Help Anonymous began in 1970, and HopeLine in 1980, in response to a need for phone support services. Both agencies began in small donated spaces and within several years of inception, were providing 24-hour hotline services. As time went on, extensive screening and training programs were implemented for volunteers. In 1974, Help Anonymous and The Listening Post, Ohio Wesleyan University's student hotline, merged.
In the following years, both agencies grew, received funding, hired staff, expanded community prevention programs, and became certified by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and the American Association of Suicidology, both requiring rigorous standards for policies, training, and operations.
Since the merger in 1996, HelpLine has employed, trained, and certified staff; established the Connections Volunteer Center; further expanded evidence-based prevention programs; established the sexual assault survivor program; computerized databases and caller records; launched the HelpLine and Connections websites; added online resource databases; developed a community training initiative; and managed the Senior Companion Program. In 2002, HelpLine was the first organization in Ohio to launch 2-1-1, a three-digit number to reach health and human services information.
HelpLine has begun working more with residents of central Ohio, taking an estimated 1,200 calls annually from residents of Franklin County and forming a partnership with HandsOn Central Ohio to train and recruit disaster volunteers. We offer training and education credits to social workers, nurses, and counselors across central Ohio.
HelpLine’s primary goal is to empower people with knowledge, support, and resources. Our charge is to strengthen people’s ability to overcome challenges that life inevitably hands them. Crises will occur, and when people have nowhere else to turn, we are able to make our most valuable contribution. HelpLine is accessible 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year to provide comfort, reassurance, and nonjudgmental support. Part of our uniqueness rests in our constant availability; when other agencies are closed, we are there. And, our up-to-date database of more than 1,000 community health and human service resources ensures that we can successfully guide people to the help they need. Our staff, volunteers, board, donors, and community partners come together to make a difference, and it is a privilege to be a part of this important work.
I have been a member of the HelpLine board of directors for six years. In that time, I have realized what a wonderful, successful organization it is and observed its potential to be one of the most influential and important social service agencies in our community. The agency provides an array of critical services not available elsewhere in our community. The staff members are professional, knowledgeable, and caring individuals who exemplify a commitment to serving the community. HelpLine, like many agencies, has a cadre of dedicated volunteers. Its continued success depends on its ability to grow funding streams to meet the ever-increasing demands of our community. I am hopeful that through the efforts of staff, volunteers, board, and contributors, we will meet this challenge.