Volunteers sought for family support

GARDNERVILLE - Teresa Ortega wants people to know that it is easy to be a crisis line volunteer at the Family Support Council.

Even though the hours will be two days a month from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. weekdays, or any 8-hour shift during the weekend, the work is so rewarding that they won't even look at the clock.

"I love it," she said. "I really feel like I'm helping people. Lots of women feel like they're alone and I like being there for them. It's a great feeling to be able to help."

Ortega is one of 14 volunteers on the Family Support Council's crisis hotline, serving the Carson Valley and the Stateline area. Calls range from issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, suicide or just individuals seeking information. Volunteers are trained to handle each situation and are asked to commit to two shifts per month for two years.

"The training was very good," Ortega said. "I really felt prepared for each call, and then I could always talk to Becky or Lois and tell them what I did and find out if it was the right thing."

Becky Smokey and Lois Pruneau are co-coordinators of the council's domestic violence department.

"Teresa is excellent," Smokey said. "She makes everyone smile. We couldn't do the hotline without all the volunteers. "

Ortega, 36, is the mother of two teenagers, Kira Cervantez, 18, a senior at Douglas High School, and Tommy Cervantez, 16, a junior.

She works as a client service manager at Nevada State Bank and is married to Jay Ortega. Her work as a hotline volunteer has made her a better mother and wife, she said.

"We really learn how to listen on the phone with callers, which I try to do more with my kids," she said. "Even though I'm a good talker, I'm also a good listener. Lots of times, that is all the callers want is someone to really listen to them."

Saturday, the Family Support Council will be offering a training session for new volunteers. Anyone interested in joining is invited.

The Family Support Council office is located on Waterloo Lane across from Lampe Park. For more information on Saturday's training session, call 782-8692.


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