NAPLES, Fla.- A crisis hot line in Naples is in a crisis of its own. They're not getting enough money to fund their operation. Project HELP gives free counseling and helps victims of crime. They say now is the worst time to be in need of funding.
"It's not just those that are sexually assaulted or the grief clients. It's everybody. Everybody is in crisis now," Project HELP Executive Director Michelle English said Friday.
Project HELP's 24/7 phone line is flooded with calls, counselors dealing with clients facing a new kind of crisis.
"They have lost their jobs, they can't afford their mortgages," service coordinator Eileen Wesley said.
But as the non-profit is seeing a surge in demand, the center is in a financial hard place of it's own. Donations are dwindling, and grant money is $100,000 short compared to last year. Now, they're cutting back by slashing staff, and their services are suffering.
"If you're somebody who needs to be coming in once a week, you may only be coming in once every two weeks, those types of situations," English said.
Coordinators are turning to group counseling sessions to tackle scheduling nightmares and training their 30 volunteers to fill in the gaps.
"The volunteers are our pulse. They are our heartbeat. I've started reaching out to them to start doing more than just answer the hot line," Wesley said.
The financial future of the 25-year old crisis center is unknown, but as organizers continue to scale back on everything down to the tissues, they're still hanging on to their hope.
"We want to help everybody the same. A victim is a victim. It's a person. It's you. It's me. It's our family. It's our neighbors. So we want to be there, we want to be able to help everybody," English said on Friday.
For more information on how to make a financial donation or volunteer, call Project HELP at 239-649-1404.