SILVERDALE — The Coffee Oasis is expanding the services it offers to Kitsap County’s youth in crisis.
On March 20, The Coffee Oasis launched a two-pronged program in an effort to reach out to youth in crisis, funded by Kitsap County’s 1/10th of 1 percent sales tax for Mental Health, Chemical Dependency and Therapeutic Courts services.
The first part is community engagement, meaning they’re working with schools and first responders and anyone who may regularly have a meaningful presence with youth, said Joshua Goss, crisis intervention team manager.
The second part is a crisis line.
The crisis line, 360-768-2076, is for anyone age 13 to 25 in crisis — from facing homelessness to exiting juvenile detention, from depression to an abusive relationship, anything that threatens the individual’s mental well-being.
“A lot of it is listening to their story, talking with them,” Goss said. “A lot of it is youth that are going through emotional stuff with family … I’ve taken several calls from friends of kids who have been in trouble asking for services for the youth that’s in contact with them.”
The crisis line is available from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. and is answered by volunteers.
“We currently have about 40 people, and that’s a mixture between adults and, also, we have a partnership with South Kitsap High School,” Goss said. “We’ve built a great relationship with them. We have juniors and seniors doing peer-to-peer support as well.”
Goss said it can be beneficial for people calling the crisis line to speak with a peer.
“Oftentimes, when a youth is having issues, they tend to go to their friends as opposed to an adult,” Goss said.
Training for the volunteers includes an eight-hour crisis-intervention training covering “a wide variety of topics,” including relationships, trauma, suicidal thoughts and more. Then, volunteers go through hands-on training, which includes role-playing scenarios.
After the initial eight-hour session, they revisit with potential volunteers to ensure they still wish to continue, as there are a lot of triggering situations, Goss said.
Volunteers also meet regularly to talk about how it’s been going and bounce information off each other, Goss said.
If the line receives a large number of calls about specific issues, further training in that area may be provided as well.
Goss said a unique aspect of the Oasis Youth Line is that they aren’t based out of a specific location. Instead, a call to the line is anonymously forwarded to a personal phone number, so the responders are able to be at home and take a crisis call. Volunteers staff the line from 4-11 p.m., Goss said, after which shelter staff members will cover the line.
If interested in volunteering, contact Goss at email@example.com or call 360-377-5560.
“I don’t think you can inundate an area with enough resources,” Goss said. “I think the more resources we have for youth in general, the better they’ll be supported.”
Goss said the crisis line is “about building a connection, building a relationship.”
“We’re not advice givers, we’re there to provide empathetic and compassionate support,” he said.
Michelle Beahm is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.