BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Ted Speaker is among the volunteers answering the Crisis Line at Birmingham’s Crisis Center. They are changing lives one phone call at a time. The caller could be someone thinking of suicide, dealing with a difficult relationship, struggling with mental illness or perhaps lost in loneliness. They are people on the edge and Ted is there to listen.
“People will tell you things they haven’t told anyone else. That’s one of the advantages of being anonymous.” Ted says, “They don’t have to but sometimes they do identify themselves by first name. There’s a great advantage to share with someone you don’t know so as a volunteer you want to be a good listener.”
Ted Speaker is more than a good listener. Back in the 70′s he was the executive director of the Crisis Center. He helped build and develop the Crisis Line and Rape Response. Now almost four decades later, retired from a long career as a professional counselor, Ted has returned to the Crisis Center as a volunteer.
“After you’ve done it a while you learn to be objective. You can have empathy but still be objective. That’s the advantage. The person is not talking to a friend or family member, or church member. We are here for that purpose. That’s why they call.” Ted explains how he tried to meet their needs, “People in crisis are confused, distraught, and they feel out of control. What I try to do is come up with a simple plan for the next steps this person might take.” He adds, "It’s gratifying at the end of the call when the person will thank you. Of course, that’s really nice to hear. When I leave I feel like I’ve helped at least one person; hopefully more.
We salute Ted Speaker “Doing Good” at the Crisis Center.
For emergency help call The Crisis Line at 205-323-7777.
If you’d like to learn more about volunteering at The Crisis Center click here.
If you would like to nominate someone for our “Doing Good” segment follow this link.