How effective is a 24-hour hot line staffed only in the evenings and on weekends?
The Rape Crisis Intervention Service may find out this fall as it struggles to survive a 75 percent cut in a federal grant.
The service, at 224 N. Center St. in Westminster, received almost $20,000 a year from a federal grant for the past four years, but learned this month that it would receive only $5,000 this year.
"Our board of trustees has talked about a number of options to get the money we need to continue to provide effective service," said Jo Ann Hare, executive director.
"We will be suggesting donations of $10 for individual therapy sessions and $3 for support group sessions starting Oct. 1, but we will take anything they can afford to give," Ms. Hare said. "No one will ever be turned away from our services because they cannot pay."
Ms. Hare is concerned that people will not be able to get the usual round-the-clock service because the federal grant paid for the part-time hot line operator. She believes the cuts will lead to further reductions in a thinned staff.
The service has five paid full-time employees and three part-timers.
"As it is now, there is one person on the hot line and one on backup during the day. With the cuts, the primary person would be gone," said Ms. Hare. "The person who is there may be busy with another call or a walk-in client and cannot do two things at once.
"This could discourage some people from calling back," she said. "If they cannot reach someone right away, they may content themselves to living in quiet desperation."
The center provided service to hundreds of people in 1991 alone. It received 266 new clients last year and fielded 500 to 600 calls on the hot line from people seeking guidance.
Without someone to answer the hot line during the day, people may to lose the anonymity they could have with an operator.
"People could call any time, 24 hours a day, and get information," said Ms. Hare. "Now, if these people call and they can only leave a message, they may be at a crisis point where they just go ahead and make a decision -- good or bad -- and it will be a very long time before they seek help again, if they do.
"We need to be there when they need to talk to someone."
Money for the service comes from the State Department of Human Resources, the county and the community, Ms. Hare said. The organization will also sponsor several fund-raisers.
"We don't want people thinking we are insensitive to their needs," said Ms. Hare. "We are just in a tough financial situation right now.
"We will do everything we can to provide the same kind of service we always have . . . but lack of funds may make us unable to provide the services at the same level."
The phone number for the center is 857-0900; the hot-line number is 857-7322.