Contact Altoona sets training and open house

Contact Altoona, Blair County’s only 24-hour telephone helpline service, is holding an open house from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. March 14 at its executive office at 2729 Eighth Ave, Altoona, to recruit more volunteers.

“Our spring training classes begin March 31, and we thought it would be a good idea to invite the public in to see what we are about,” said Contact Altoona executive director Terriann Grove.

“We are open to the public,” said Helpline coordinator TKay Gressley, “and if folks think they are coming, we would appreciate if they could give us a call at 946-0531 and let us know.”

Contact Altoona training classes run for five weeks, with classes being held Monday and Tuesdays. Local professionals will teach classes of basic and advanced listening skills, understanding the elderly and helping people find information. The classes are free.

Contact Altoona has almost 80 active volunteers, but with the number of calls increasing each year, more volunteers are needed.

“We are always after more volunteers,” Grove said. “Our call volume continues to grow.”

In addition to taking calls, Contact Altoona also has a Reassurance Program, where volunteer helpline workers make calls to those who request to be called, including shut-ins who are reminded to take their medications and keep their appointments and to those who just need someone to talk to.

A few years ago, Contact Altoona instituted a call-forwarding program where the volunteer can pull a shift from their home. The calls are re-routed to the volunteers home.

“If the weather is bad or the volunteer doesn’t want to go out at night, they can still volunteer from their home,” Gressley said.

For more information, call 946-0531 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.