During the early morning hours of Tuesday, Jan. 9, a winter storm dumped torrential rains on the slopes of the Santa Ynez Mountains, which had only days earlier been scorched by the massive Thomas Fire, the largest wildfire in modern California history. According to the LA Times, the storm at one point dumped a half-inch of rain on the fire-scarred ground in less than 30 minutes. As a result, in Santa Barbara County, rivers of mud, boulders and debris swept down the hillside, destroying everything in their paths. To date, 21 people are known to have been killed by the mudslides.
Not only did the damage and loss caused by the dual tragedies leave community members reeling, but the nature of the disasters severely limited the number of local mental-health professionals available to provide counseling. Barely a week later, however, cloud provider Evolve IP and 805 Counselor Connect, a not-for-profit counseling organization, had teamed up to offer a hotline that puts fire and mudslide victims in touch with counselors across the U.S.
Evolve IP provided the pro bono contact center so that those needing counseling could instantly connect with a licensed or specially trained counselor by calling a local number, (805) 979-9091, or visiting the 805 Counselor Connect website and clicking to call. The hotline launched with operating hours of 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (PST) on weekdays, but hours are expanding as more counselors become available. The hotline will remain operational as long as it’s needed.
Evolve IP became involved in the project when they were contacted by Heather Wennergren, the IT director for one of their clients and a volunteer at 805 Counselor Connect.
“With a background in psychology, and now in my role with IT and communications, it occurred to me that only counseling – and a lot of it – could help this community deal with the tragic situations experienced by so many friends, loved ones and rescuers,” Wennergren said. “I had recently seen a demo of Evolve IP’s contact center and I knew that it would solve our issue of connecting a nationwide network of therapists.”
“When Heather asked if we could help with the program, we said ‘yes’ without hesitation,” said Rich Fox, vice president of contact center for Evolve IP. “We’re incredibly thankful for the therapists who are volunteering, as well as all of the heroic first responders who continue to put their lives on the line to keep us safe.
Saying yes without hesitation to a community need is a basic tenet for the Philadelphia area-based Evolve IP. According to Scott Kinka, the chief technical and product development officer and founding partner of the company, community service “has been essential to Evolve from the beginning.” Evolve Cares, the company’s community service program, encourages company associates to identify and participate in the activities of local organizations and charities. Since Evolve IP was started in 2006, the company has donated and raised more than $6 million for community projects. And since 2009, more than 6,000 volunteer hours have been donated by Evolve IP associates.
“Some of these projects are ongoing and some are one-time, such as a fundraising event,” Kinka told Channel Partners. Associates are encouraged to suggest projects with which Evolve Cares can become involved. Activities run the gamut from …