How to Help

Governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, VIA LINK appreciates donations to keep the agency operating. VIA LINK’s mission is to help individuals and families understand the resources and services available and assist them in connecting to these services.

VIA LINK Needs Volunteers

VIA LINK 2-1-1 offers volunteer opportunities for college level students and individuals in the helping professions looking for community involvement. VIA LINK 2-1-1 relies on the support of dedicated volunteers to keep our hotlines fully staffed. Our volunteers provide free, short-term crisis counseling and referrals for Helpline 2-1-1 and The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, as well as operating VIA LINK'S own Crisis Teen Textline. 

Our Volunteer Specialists are of diverse backgrounds who reside in the greater New Orleans area. We are in particular need of volunteers who come from the helping professions i.e. mental health counseling, social work, psychology, and psychiatry.

VIA LINK offers training for Volunteer Specialists 3 times a year. Click here for further information on prospective training dates.

Volunteer Application Process:

VIA LINK/ 2-1-1 requires that applicants for the Hotline Specialist Training program meet the following criteria:

  • Applicants must be at least 19 years of age and have completed at least one years of college. College courses must include courses in the above specified helping professions.
  • Employment, internship, and/or volunteering experiences in the above helping professions will also be considered.
  • Provide an updated resume.
  • Provide three professional references for contact.

Applicants must complete the two phases of screening in order to be considered as a Volunteer Specialist:

  1. Application
    Fill out and submit the application and provide your professional resume.
    Email both documents to the Volunteer & Training Assistant at lratleff@vialink.org
  2. Individual Interview
    After applicants submit the completed application and resume, the Volunteer & Training Supervisor will provide further instruction and will schedule an individual interview for further screening with eligible applicants. 

The Volunteer & Training Coordinator will notify applicants if they have been selected to volunteer with VIA LINK and will provide additional information on the upcoming training.

Click here to download the Volunteer/Intern Hotline Specialist Application

Training Programs Offered:

VIA LINK volunteers/interns have the option to choose between three trainings offered:

Full Crisis Hotline Training - There are four phases in the VIA LINK Hotline Specialist Training program totaling approximately 60 hours of training. In order to become a Hotline Specialist, each trainee must fully participate in all four phases. Crisis Hotline Specialists answer the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Helpline 2-1-1, and have the option of working on the Crisis Teen Textline. 

Outreach Volunteer Training – VIA LINK needs volunteers to help with agency outreach in the community. Outreach volunteers go through a training process to learn about VIA LINK and what we do, including information on our hotlines and training programs available. Volunteers then represent VIA LINK at community events such as health fairs and community walks, passing out information and answering questions about VIA LINK’s programs and services. Outreach volunteers can also have the opportunity to speak about VIA LINK’s mission and services to both individual citizens and other community agencies.Outreach volunteers need to have a good attitude and be comfortable speaking in public. Must either have own transportation or access to some form of transportation to get to community events."

Click here to learn more about each training program. 

Volunteer Commitment:

Volunteer training is provided at no charge to volunteers. In return for this extensive training, VIA LINK 2-1-1 asks that each volunteer commit a certain amount of time with our agency, depending on the training program selected.

Full Crisis Hotline Training - As this is the most intensive training offered, VIA LINK asks that volunteers/interns completing this training commit a total of 200 hours of service (minimum of 15 hours per month). The 150 hour commitment begins once the initial training is complete and the trainee is cleared to independently answer hotline calls. The four phases of Specialist Training are all a part of the 60 hours of initial training and do not count towards the 150 hour commitment. However, all time spent at official VIA LINK 2-1-1 activities, including covering hotline shifts, assisting at recruitment and fundraising events, and attending additional training or supervisory sessions may count towards the volunteer commitment

Outreach Volunteer Training - Outreach Volunteers are asked to commit a total of 40 hours to VIA LINK. The 40 hour commitment begins once the initial training is complete. 

Click here for more information on the trainee attendance guidelines.

Benefits of Training:

  • Gain valuable crisis intervention and counseling skills
  • Expand your knowledge of community resources
  • Learn advanced communication skills
  • Meet a variety of new people
  • Develop networking opportunities
  • Professional training program
  • Evening training classes
  • Flexible schedule when volunteering

Click here for more information on the volunteer hotline specialist expectations & rewards.

AIRS Suicide Preventions Greater New Orleans United Way American Association of Suicidology Fight Fraud