Lessons Learned from 9 Weeks at a Nonprofit Counseling Center…

phone booth

When I’m not writing, reading, or taking care of my family and home, then I’m probably volunteering.  Lately I volunteer at Compassion Counseling Center, Inc. Compassion has a unique mission: to help the hurting and to support the next generation of counselors.

Compassion is into its 10th week of counseling now. And as the Board secretary for Compassion, I just reported on “the status” of this “experiment” at our first quarterly Board meeting for 2015. We are off to a good start despite ice storms, rolling Spring Breaks and people not even knowing we exist.

Compassion, as of right now, has completed 72 hours of counseling and 35 people have been seen by Compassion counselors. Because we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, we are able to offer counseling at a very reduced rate. Our average session fee is currently $ 13.83.

Fifty percent of our clients pay less than that, based on a very generous sliding fee scale. Some pay nothing at all. We have 14 hours of counseling sessions scheduled for the rest of this week. That is well above our average (over the past 2 months) of 7.22 counseling hours per week.

Compassion is blessed to have Oakdale United Methodist Church generously provide its facilities free of charge. And we have three counselors-in-training that are also a true blessing–each one is uniquely talented, dedicated and caring. So, what have I learned from being the volunteer “Scheduling and Support Coordinator” for the past 9 weeks? Take a look:

1. A computer lab seems huge until you put 5 counselors/therapists in there with 5 laptops, a huge printer/scanner/copier, client folders, filing cabinets, bookshelves and tables.

2. There is not enough coffee produced for 8 am appointments or Saturday appointments.

3. The stakes for small “real estate” signs do not stay put well, particularly in cold Texas soil.

4. I have enough furniture moving experience to get my union card.

5. Stock up on Oust and Febreze.

6. We have enough kleenex to last us until the next millennium.

7. Three reams of paper for new client forms will be gone in 10 weeks.

8. One counselor is a female Clark Kent. Instead of phone booths, she uses church bathrooms.

9. Microwave ovens are really noisy when positioned next door to a counseling room.

10. MaryAnn is a sucker for therapy toy sales.

11. You can buy Pepsi Max by the case.

12. Have to counsel over dinnertime? No problem. Just clean out the church fridge leftovers.

13. Even leftover chicken tenders start to get stale after 2 weeks in the church refrigerator.

14. 5 people make a lot of trash, even when they’re only around for about 20 hours a week.

15. 20 hours of counseling a week equals 40+ hours of “Support and Scheduling”.

16. I need a maid.

17. I am the maid in between sessions at the church.

18. I know where the extra light bulbs are at my church.

19. I did not want to know # 18.

20. One cannot plan a benefit golf tournament in 6 weeks.

21. Eight board members cannot plan a benefit golf tournament in 6 weeks.

22. The Board is composed of Clark Kents, too. Where do they change into their super suits?

23. Yes, that was an Incredibles reference in # 22, dahling. Just call me Edna.

24. When someone is shocked by your session fees, it’s because they’re amazed at the low fee.

25. Churches should have outlets on all 4 sides of each room.

26. Oakdale generally has outlets on 2 sides that are never where I’d like them to be.

27. Don’t do counseling on Church Council meeting night.

28. Tell the church babysitter when you’re having counseling in the room next to the nursery. That way she can schedule World War III for another night.

29. I am now addicted to online scheduling software.

30. A scheduling software addiction is more productive than a Candy Crush addiction.

31. Note to self: Start a support group called Candy Crush Anonymous.

32. Being addicted to online scheduling software is not helpful when the internet goes out at your house in the middle of an ice storm.

33. Everyone wants to start counseling during an ice storm.

34. Note to self: Start a cabin fever support group.

35. A utility belt would probably be useful for the Scheduling and Support Coordinator.

36. That utility belt needs to come equipped with: a Dustbuster, a hammer, a screwdriver, an extra light bulb, a box of kleenex, diaper wipes, gum, a 90 calorie snack, a Pepsi Max holster, Febreze, 3 old magazines, and a partridge in a pear tree.

37. I know the extracurricular schedule at the high school across the street way too well.

38. Bus 14 likes to park in our parking lot after school. Don’t ask me why.

39. Facebook used to be my addiction.

40. Facebook is now where I connect the hurting with a counselor.

42. Brave people go to counseling.

43. It takes a village to create a nonprofit counseling center.

44. I like my village. Correction: I love my village.

45. Now I need counseling. But in a good way. 🙂

Struggling? Get help. You’re not alone. Someone else struggling? Let them know about the resources available in your area. If you have to, schedule the appointment for them. If you live near me, that can be done online any time by going here.

Want to help Compassion? Go here and tell me how. And like us on Facebook by going here.

Already doing that? Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Friday’s Post: More ETRE madness

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 25th, 2015 at 10:50 am and is filed under Lessons Learned. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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