Crisis Text Line Delivers a Helping Hand, One Text at a Time (Knight Foundation)

By Bob Andelman

OCTOBER 2016 — Last night, pajamas-clad 22-year-old Tessa Shapiro spent four hours curled up on her couch, computer on her lap, a pot of tea and snacks at arm’s reach, texting with strangers.

She’s part of the volunteer army at Crisis Text Line, a former Knight News Challenge winner that Knight Foundation continues supporting in a big way.

And Shapiro may have just saved a life.

“There’s a lot of activity at night,” she says, “and I like to have the challenge of talking to as many people as I can.”

Shapiro is one of 1,500 trained volunteer counselors manning Crisis Text Line, a national service spun from DoSomething.org in August 2013 and funded, in part, by Knight Foundation.

The recent University of Michigan graduate – Shapiro earned her bachelor’s degree majoring in  biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience – plans on a career in mental health counseling and has been volunteering four hours a week with Crisis Text Line for the past year. She has helped more than 160 people to date. (Volunteers receive 34 hours of training before being allowed to handle incoming texts.)

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