Jerilyn smiles while standing in Distress Centre Calgary's call centre

I never intended to be a social worker. As a psychology undergraduate student looking to build practical skills, I started volunteering at Distress Centre Calgary, a United Way funded agency, nearly two decades ago. The experience changed the direction of my life.

When I learned about the agency’s crisis line and on-site counselling services, I was amazed. There were times, growing up in a small town, when I didn’t have anyone to talk to. To be able to call a line where you know someone is there waiting for your call—that would have meant the world to me.

 

 

Volunteering at the agency’s 24-hour 211 telephone line, which helps people at all levels of distress, inspired me to pursue a master’s degree in social work.

Today, I am the agency’s executive director, and I provide leadership to a team of dedicated and compassionate staff and volunteers, many of whom have experienced their own personal struggles.

The crisis line is a critical community service, especially for the one in five people who will struggle with a mental illness in any given year. I am grateful to United Way donors who are instrumental in enabling us to provide this vital service in our community. I definitely wouldn’t be the person that I am today without the Distress Centre.


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