If you are in crisis or need someone to talk to, call Raft now at 540-961-8400.

Sheree Shirley, Raft Services Volunteer Manager
Phone: 540.961.8422

raft-phone-reducedAbout Raft
The Raft Crisis Hotline is a program of NRVCS (New River Valley Community Services) that offers free paraprofessional phone counseling services to the community.

Our volunteers provide suicide and crisis intervention, empathy and support, mental health and substance abuse information and referrals to the counties of Montgomery, Floyd, Giles, Pulaski and the City of Radford (including Virginia Tech and Radford University).

Raft is the only crisis hotline in Virginia affiliated with and located within a community service board, NRVCS. This provides Raft callers with continual access to professionals and trained volunteers, phone counseling, information and referrals – services not available through other community service boards.

Raft operates 4 p.m. – 8 a.m. Monday through Friday and 24 hours on the weekends. NRVCS Case Managers answer the phones during business hours and New Horizons, a residential crisis stabilization program, provides callers with services when volunteers are unavailable.

To learn more about how you can become a Raft volunteer, or make a contribution in support of the Hotline, please contact Sheree at 540.961.8422 or raft@nrvcs.org.

Volunteering with Raft: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Vol 2Why should I volunteer?
Volunteering with the Raft Crisis Hotline is a great opportunity to help the community while gaining valuable experience in mental health and substance abuse services. No prior experience is necessary as we provide all the training you will need to handle the variety of calls the hotline receives. Students may also be able to use Raft as an internship or field study.

Who operates Raft?
Raft is operated by a dedicated group of volunteers from both the community and local universities. Volunteers go through extensive training to provide the best help possible to our callers. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old, complete a criminal background check, be willing to attend all mandatory meetings and trainings, agree to serve at least 8 months/2 semesters with Raft, and comply with all hotline policies and procedures. Once the training semester is complete, volunteers are expected to cover a two-hour set shift weekly and a combination of weekend and/or overnight shifts at any time throughout each semester. These requirements are subject to change periodically. Please let me know if you have questions about these requirements or need clarification.

Does Raft have different types of volunteer opportunities?
Raft also has volunteer opportunities in addition to answering the crisis phone line, these include: Fundraising including planning and implementation. Volunteer recruitment on campuses, community and internally for special events. Volunteer Appreciation such as creating, planning, tracking and maintaining incentives as well as event planning/ implementation and helping with Raft Room care. Volunteer training (this comes in your 2nd semester) includes Role Plays and training facilitation as well as continuing education planning. Lastly volunteers help with outreach and prevention, which includes representing Raft at community awareness events and at local venues (schools, churches etc).

What is the time commitment?
Once training is complete, volunteers are expected to provide at least one other full semester of service and cover a two-hour set shift weekly. In addition, volunteers must cover approx. 8 weekend/overnight shifts (4-8 hours) every 4 months. These shifts can be completed at any time throughout the 4-month period and can be a combination of weekend and/or overnights. Volunteers also contribute time and energy to support teams such as fundraising, outreach/ prevention as well as volunteer; appreciation, training and recruitment. Most volunteers serve 2-5 hrs. a week depending on the week.

Apply to become a Raft volunteer!

Submit completed applications to RaftApp@nrvcs.org.

Our next volunteer training will take place in February 2019, happening every Monday and Wednesday night from 5 – 9 p.m. each evening. The application deadline for the February trainings is January 28, 2019.

Making a Contribution to Raft
As a result, all contributions in support of the Raft Crisis Hotline are considered tax-deductible. If you would like to support the important work of our volunteers and the service they provide to our community, please make checks payable to “NRVCS” and be sure to note “Raft donation” in the memo line of your check.

Checks can be mailed directly to:
Sheree Shirley, Raft Crisis Hotline
c/o New River Valley Community Services
700 University City Boulevard
Blacksburg, VA 24060

Support Raft via AmazonSmile
The Raft Crisis Hotline now has an account with AmazonSmile – a website operated by Amazon that lets customers donate 0.5% of their purchases to the organization of their choice. You can access AmazonSmile at https://smile.amazon.com. Log-in and search for Mountain Empire Services of the Southwest Inc. (Mountain Empire is NRVCS’ non-profit 501(c)3 subsidiary that Raft is linked to in order to receive donations.) Be sure to spread the word with your friends and family!