How many of you remember 1969? Let’s take a trip back to that glorious year!
The #1 song was “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin
The top movies included “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, “Midnight Cowboy” and “Easy Rider”
The best selling car was the Chevy Chevelle SS, a muscle car with 375 horsepower
Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon
Levis started to sell “bell-bottomed” jeans
But most importantly, on March 17th, 1969, the Distress Centre of Ottawa & Region opened for business, with 100 volunteers!!
Led by Minister, William Blackmore as its first President, supported by a cast of 11 Directors and its Coordinator, Patricia Delbridge, the Distress Centre embarked on a remarkable journey that would lead us to where we are today - one of the largest distress centres in Canada, employing the third largest team of telephone volunteers behind only Toronto and Vancouver. Since its beginning, over 3,300 individuals have been trained to become telephone volunteers, and in doing so have answered more than 1-million calls for help.
During its history, there have been many memorable moments for the Distress Centre. Only one year following its opening, the Centre offered 24/7 service, a feature that has been maintained ever since. In 1971, the Centre became a United Way funded agency. For such a young organization to be welcomed into the United Way family, was recognition of the need filled by this new service. The Centre has remained a “traditional” partner of United Way as well as that of Centraide Outaouais and the City of Ottawa. We are truly grateful for their continued support throughout these years.
In 1980, a major fire destroyed the Sussex Building where the Centre’s offices were located. This may not have been our most cherished moment but this incident highlighted the kind of community response available only in Ottawa, as our call centre was quickly moved to the Ottawa Police Station where service resumed, only 13 hours after having been interrupted.
In 2003, the Champlain District Mental Health Crisis Line was added to our services. A similar program is offered to the residents of the Grey Bruce Counties starting in 2006. The addition of the crisis lines was a true testament to the ability of volunteers to care for people in distress and in crisis. We are very pleased to be partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association (Grey Bruce Section), the Cornwall Community Hospital, the Grey Bruce Health Services, the Hawkesbury & District General Hospital, the Ottawa Hospital and the Pembroke General Hospital to manage and operate the crisis lines.
So, how did we get here? How can a simple concept shared amongst like-minded community members flourish into a vibrant, creative, forward-thinking and entrepreneurial agency? One word – Volunteers. And their story is one of courage. It’s a story of compassion and empathy, a story of dedication and wanting to give back.
Find out more about becoming a volunteer today!