Crisis Clinic has a place to call its own in Olympia

ahobbs@theolympian.comMarch 10, 2014 

The Crisis Clinic of Thurston and Mason Counties finally owns its home after paying $1.

The purchase marks the last hurdle to autonomy for the nonprofit clinic, which runs a 24-hour crisis hotline from an old house in Olympia.

Built in 1898, the house was previously owned by the county. The clinic had been renting the house for $1 a year and was responsible for the upkeep. The clinic keeps the house’s address confidential to protect volunteers from potential conflicts with those who use the service.

Founded in 1972 at The Evergreen State College, the clinic has been in its current location for 24 years. When the county announced its intention to sell the house about two years ago, the clinic eventually negotiated a deal to buy it. The sale was finalized in December, according to the Thurston County Assessor’s Office.

Now, the clinic no longer needs county approval for building repairs, manager Paul Larsen said.

“It’s our home,” he said. “This building can last us another 42 years.”

The next step is to raise money for crucial repairs and renovations, Larsen said. The house needs a new roof, new windows, new paint and new insulation. Funding can be difficult because the clinic doesn’t collect data on callers, and such data is typically required when applying for federal grant money, Larsen said. Aside from fundraisers and donations, the clinic relies on money from sources, including the county and United Way.

With 70 trained volunteers who answer the phones, the clinic links callers to agencies that can help. The clinic assists nearly 8,000 callers a year — or about 25 callers a day — with crisis intervention services. Callers and volunteers don’t meet, and confidentiality is the rule. About 10 percent of callers are suicidal, while others are dealing with traumas such as domestic violence, sexual assault or chemical dependency.

Callers come from all walks of life and include survivors and perpetrators, program manager Nanci LaMusga said.

The clinic also has a nine-member board of directors that contributed 3,000 volunteer hours last year, LaMusga said.

CRISIS HOTLINE

To reach the 24-hour crisis hotline, call 360-586-2800.

How to VOLUNTEER

The Crisis Clinic of Thurston and Mason Counties will have a volunteer training session April 4. To learn more, contact Nanci LaMusga at 360-586-2888, ext. 103.

Andy Hobbs: 360-704-6869 ahobbs@theolympian.com

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