Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Helpline calls it quits after 31 years

KEY WEST: Helpline, Inc., which for 31 years has offered a 24-hour crisis hotline directing callers to services, will shut down in the first quarter of 2014, its board of directors said Tuesday.

Volunteers will continue to answer the emergency line until the nonprofit finds another agency to take over the service, said Helpline board chairwoman Mary Lou Hoover.

The nonprofit's board made a unanimous decision earlier this month after an emergency meeting.

"This is with a heavy heart but a clear conscience," Hoover said. "Technology has changed. There are people who have managed to change with that."

Helpline's newly hired executive director Kristin Wheeler resigned, offering to work through the year's end. The nonprofit with an annual budget of $150,000 lost $40,000 in funding last year.

The decision is the result of financial struggles, a decline in demand and the fact that telephone calls are becoming almost old-fashioned, said Hoover.

Helpline also has a reassurance call program for the elderly and homebound, which the board wants to transfer to another nonprofit.

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