The Listening Ear is the nation’s oldest all-volunteer crisis center.
It was founded on July 15, 1969 as a culmination of efforts between Michigan State University students, faculty and community residents. These individuals banded together in the hopes of doing something constructive in light of the unrest caused by the Vietnam War. It was decided that if 1,000 calls were received in the first three months, they would remain open. An astounding 1,500 calls came in the first month and the center has remained open ever since. This adds up to more than 500,000 hours of volunteer time and service provided to the community over the last 34 years. The Listening Ear strives to improve the quality of life in the community by providing 24 hour, anonymous, confidential crisis intervention and referral services free of charge to both telephone and drop-in clients. Most clients of the Listening Ear are from the Lansing/East Lansing vicinity, but there are no residency requirements to receive crisis services. Our organization receives calls from men, women, and youth of all ages who are experiencing crises, which we define as any situation in which a person’s normal coping mechanisms are unable to handle the situation.
We have included here some of our more recent or updated policies. It is not a complete list, but we are in the process of adding more information to our site and will include our full list of policies and procedures in the near future. Specific questions about The Listening Ear’s full policies and procedures can be directed to our business line (517-337-1728).
Background check policy and procedure
Policy: The Listening Ear Crisis Intervention Center will conduct background checks on all applicants. Additionally, background checks will be completed annually on all current volunteers. Individuals listed on the sexual offender registry will be excluded from any participation at the Listening Ear. Any current or future staff member whose background check reveals conviction(s) of felony or misdemeanors including, but not limited to embezzlement, fraud, assault of a violent or sexual nature, stalking, domestic violence, and violent misdemeanors will be reviewed by the Background Review Committee, (BRC), to determine whether or not they are eligible to volunteer.
Procedure: By consensus decision, a member of the Board of Directors, an at-large member of the volunteer staff, and the SAC Professional Consultant will compose the Background Review Committee. They will run and review potential trainee’s background checks. For those individuals whose background check reveals criminal behavior, the following considerations will be discussed to determine the appropriateness of that individual’s participation as a volunteer at The Listening Ear:
- The nature and gravity of the offense;
- The acts and circumstances surrounding the offense or conduct;
- Time elapsed since the criminal behavior occurred;
- Time elapsed since any sentence resulting from the criminal conviction is completed;
- Age of the staff member or applicant at the time of the criminal behavior, conviction or completion of the terms of sentence;
- Number of criminal acts attributed to the staff member or applicant the criminal history;
- The number of offenses for which the individual was convicted.
- Rehabilitation efforts (counseling, employment, education, training, successful completion of probationary requirements)
The Background Review Committee will be responsible for contacting training applicants whose criminal background makes them ineligible to volunteer with The Listening Ear.
The Board of Directors representative will be responsible for reporting to the Board of Directors the aggregate results of work done by the committee.
After initial background checks are performed, annual background checks will be run on all volunteer staff on the anniversary of their acceptance on staff by the Background Check Committee.
All background check results will be maintained in a secure, limited access site at the Listening Ear.