To the editor:
I was absolutely stunned to see the cuts in funding for “safety net” organizations recently announced by United Way. Since I have served as a volunteer for Headquarters Counseling Center, I will confine my remarks to that agency in the hopes that the general public will have a better understanding of what they do.
Headquarters has provided confidential counseling, free of charge, 24 hours a day, every day of the year, for 42 years. In 2010, they handled over 19,500 calls. Of those, 4,492 were from people dealing with depression or at risk for suicide, 1,217 were Phone-A-Friend calls from children needing a safe adult to talk to, 414 concerned alcohol and drug abuse, 369 were from survivors of abuse or rape and over 100 were from members of the military or their families.
Those abstract figures encompass considerable human anguish and suffering. When I reflect on the years I spent as a volunteer counselor at Headquarters, I hear a cacophony of distressed, lonely, desperate and spiritually wounded voices. Fortunately, many of those have successfully moved beyond those stages. I know individuals who are alive today because of the help they received from Headquarters.
If the decline in funding is not reversed by the Lawrence community, Headquarters will cease to exist. Who will be there to respond to all those voices?