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Volunteers Prepare for Tough Calls on STAR Crisis Line

Published On: Apr 09 2014 11:05:12 PM AKDT   Updated On: Apr 09 2014 11:12:04 PM AKDT

Standing Together Against Rape, or Star, taught future crises line responders. 


Standing Together Against Rape, or STAR, provides support for victims of sexual assault -- and the group's crisis line sometimes doubles as a lifesaving first line of defense.

STAR began with just two people answering the phone more than 30 years ago. Since then, it has grown into an advocacy group that's prepared to help people through a crisis 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

On Wednesday, 12 volunteers that are participating in the 40-hour crisis line training session learned what they should do when they get a suicidal caller on the line.

The group's community education manager, Jenna Mejia, says the crisis line will always be one of the most important services STAR offers.

"The crisis line started out as the heart and still is the heart of STAR," Mejia said. "Sometimes it's the first point of contact that our clients have to our organization, so it's priceless what these volunteers are doing."

One volunteer, Andrew Greene, says for him the experience is about finding a way to help others.

"I always had a knack for it," Greene said. "My friends, they'd come and ask me questions -- 'Hey Drew what do you think about this,' 'I'm going through that.' I've always wanted to take that to another level with helping others."

Hilary Ekstrom, who is studying to become an anthropologist at the University of Alaska Anchorage, is also interning with STAR. She hopes that she can take what she knows now into everyday life.

"If I could do anything as an anthropologist, it would be to help people understand that how they behave in their community, how they engage in their community, can have an effect upon violence," Ekstrom said.

Once participants complete the training session, they will work with experienced advocates before they begin taking calls on the crisis line.

"I truly, truly believe that one act could change the world because you changed someone's life and you changed their world," Ekstrom said.

STAR currently has 70 active volunteers who answer the crisis line.

The group's local crisis line number is 907-276-7273, and the statewide crisis line can be reached at 1-800-478-8999.