Executive Director Rachelle Pellissier shares the organization’s history and future as Crisis Call Center announces a new name – Crisis Support Services of Nevada
In front of 380 people at the 2nd Annual Compassion through the Crisis breakfast held on September 27th at the Nugget Resort and Casino, Executive Director Rachelle Pellissier announced plans to change the Crisis Call Center’s name to Crisis Support Services of Nevada.
At the breakfast, Pellissier shared the organization’s history, as well as the rebranding process that organization staff and volunteers have been undergoing with the support of Noble Studios. This rebranding process included developing a new name, new logo, brand strategy, messaging, and website that reflects the work the organization does to save lives in Nevada and across the nation.
In her speech, Pellissier shared the organization’s vast history, reported on the thousands of people that were served last year, and announced the Crisis Support Services of Nevada Board of Directors and staff plans for the future as they raise awareness across the state, fight stigmas across society, and help those in need find a beacon of hope in their darkest moments.
Read the transcript of Pellissier’s speech below for the whole story.
“I am Rachelle Pellissier, and I have had the privilege to be the Executive Director of the Crisis Call Center for almost 3 years.
The Crisis Call Center has been saving lives for more than 52 years. The organization was established as an outreach program of the University of Nevada, Reno in 1966 in response to the high rate of suicide in Nevada. Working with Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services, a plan was created to establish a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline. This was really quite amazing when you remember that in 1966 there were no cell phones, and only one phone per family; the kind where you dialed the number.
When the Center started, Nevada was the state with the highest rate of suicide per capita. In the last several years, we moved out of that #1 position. Last year, for the first time, we moved out of the top 10 states for the highest rates of suicide to number 11. Unfortunately, that was a blip and this year we have jumped back to number 5, tied with Colorado.
Here’s a picture of our first office in the library of UNR. How many of you remember phone booths? The organization actually started on April 1st. Obviously the pioneers who dreamed of and started the Center had a sense of humor.
The organization started out as an all-volunteer hotline. When someone wasn’t answering the calls from the office, volunteers took the calls at home. When phone calls came in the middle of the night, and there was a need to dispatch emergency personnel to help someone who was suicidal, the volunteer would have to send one of their kids or spouse next door to the neighbor’s house to call the police. That was before 911.
In the first few months of operations, the need for our service proved to be so great; it was expanded to include support for any persons in any type of crisis. In 1979, the Center again expanded its service by adding an advocacy program for victims of sexual assault. Next year will be 40 years of advocating for those who have been sexually assaulted in Northern Nevada.
The Crisis Call Center operates 24/7/365. Our funding is primarily through many Federal and State grants, so all services are free of charge to those who contact us. It is a common misconception that the organization is still an arm of UNR, but that has not been the case for many years now.
Now our pool of volunteers and staff members help those in crisis to make safety plans and dispatch emergency services to those in imminent danger both in Nevada and all over the United States.
The Crisis Call Center is one of 10 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Call Centers. All calls to the Lifeline from Nevada come to our center. We also get the calls that roll over from other centers across the nation when they are unable to answer all of the calls from their region.In 2010, the organization evolved again as one of the first crisis centers in the nation to implement a texting service for crisis intervention, immediately getting response from youth ages 10 – 24 who would not have called in for help, but would text in a crisis.
The Center helped over 67,000 people last year. Of the 67,000 + people we helped, over 11,500 were via text message primarily from kids.
The Center helped over 19,000 Nevadans last year. As I said, we take care of the whole state. 37% of those 19,000 people were from Washoe County, 38% were from Clark County, and 25% were from the rural counties.
Not all of the people we helped were over the phone. The Sexual Assault Support Services volunteers and staff advocates provided service to all victims of sexual violence in Northern Nevada. Last year our organization assisted 450 assault victims and their families. These services run the gamut from meeting with the victim immediately after the assault, dispatching the forensic nurse to do the exams of those who are sexually assaulted, being present and providing advocacy during the forensic exam, facilitating victim assistance, and following up with the victim for up to six months. We do our best to help the victims of these heinous assaults, to not only become survivors, but hopefully thrivers once again.
Over the years, as technology and the needs of our community and state evolved, so did the services that we provide.
• We now take child protective service reports for Washoe County Human Services.
• We take all of the CPS reports for the rural Nevada county CPS offices. We do this 24/7.
• We take after hours elder abuse reports for the Nevada Aging and Disability Services Division.
• We receive the after-hours crisis calls for all of Nevada’s Rural Behavioral Health Clinics.
• We also take the after-hours crisis calls for UNR’s Clinical Services.
As I said, over the past 50 years, the services we provide have evolved along with technology and the needs of our community. We are not just a crisis call center any more. We do not just help those in Washoe County any more. We provide crisis services for the entire state and the nation.
Because of this we have started looking at planning for the next 50 years. We have begun looking at why we do the work we do, what our purpose is, what our mission is, and how that will evolve in the future. We have been blessed to be the recipient of Noble Studios’ Noble Deeds grant. Through this grant, Noble Studios is helping us to rebrand the organization, to better reflect the organization that we have become, the organization that we plan to become in the future and the new services we may develop, not just regionally, but for the whole state.
This rebranding has helped us to remember and celebrate our history and look forward to our future. It has shown us that we are not just a Crisis Call Center any more, we are much more.
Because of that the Board of Directors and I are very excited to announce a change to our name that reflects everything we are and everything we will grow to be.
Our new name will be Crisis Support Services of Nevada. The Crisis Call Center and Sexual Assault Support Services will still be going strong; we will just be working under a name more reflective of everything we do – to be a beacon of hope in people’s darkest moments by providing compassion, empowerment and education.
I will leave you with a quote from John F Kennedy:
“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger – but recognize the opportunity.”
The Crisis Call Center, now to be known as Crisis Support Services of Nevada, has always been aware of the danger, but recognizes the opportunity to help people to see that there can be a better tomorrow.”