NEWARK — CONTACT We Care, the 24-hour caring and crisis hotline based in Westfield, announced that its long-time hotline volunteer Laurie Groves of Liberty Corner was selected as the winner of the New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Award in the category of Emergency Services. The honor, one of only twenty awarded from more than 500 nominations, was presented at New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on April 28.
In a quiet little phone room, without any fanfare or attention, Groves offers the gift of listening to men, women and teens that are lonely, depressed, stressed or suicidal. For more than ten years she has dedicated more than 1,500 hours to staffing CONTACT’s hotline. She consistently volunteers more than the required eight hours per month in order to ensure that callers find a caring listener at the other end of the phone line. With nearly 12,000 callers per year to the hotline, Groves’ contribution is critical to the hotline’s existence and most importantly, its callers.
In her warm and comforting way, she lets callers know they are not alone – that someone cares. As someone who lost her father at age 11, was widowed as a young mother and is a three-time cancer survivor, the 71-year-old grandmother brings a profound sense of compassion and empathy to her volunteer work.
“I could easily have been a caller to CONTACT We Care if I didn’t have support systems in my life,” she said. “Everyone needs someone to talk to.”
Her commitment to the callers and the hotline service is so great that she also volunteered to serve on CONTACT’s Board of Directors, leading the agency for more than six years. For two years, she served as president of the organization.
“I feel that every time I’m on the lines I get just as much out of it as the callers. I am a real advocate that if you want to help yourself, start by helping someone else. The more you give, the more you get,” said Groves.
Over the course of ten years on the hotline, Groves has handled more than 2,000 calls and more than 80 of those calls were from individuals considering suicide. Laurie Groves’ volunteer work soothes souls and saves lives.
For more information about CONTACT We Care, call 908-301-1899 or visit www.contactwecare.org.
Laurie Groves of Liberty Corner being honored by CONTACT We Care Executive Director David Owens of Westfield for her service as a crisis hotline volunteer. Groves has served more than 1500 hours on the crisis hotline.
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