2019 Grant Recipient Update – Common Ground

It’s easy to forget, or not quite grasp the full extent, of how our grants help people in need in our community. To put things in perspective, Heather Rae from Common Ground (a 24-hour crisis services agency and 2018 grant recipient) shared this story at our recent networking event:

With the Impact100 Oakland County investment of $90,000 to expand our Resource & Crisis Helpline text and chat, not only were we able to provide 24/7 local crisis text and chat, but little did we know at the time that the COVID-19 pandemic would fundamentally change our agency. Since our phone system for our crisis line did not allow for remote call answer, we had a small staff onsite to answer calls. Text and chat were the only remote-ready means of continuing to serve our community during a time of widespread crisis. It took until July 2020 to purchase and implement a new phone system, but the text/chat continued uninterrupted, and we saw a sharp increase in people of all ages reaching out for help. 

According to supervisors of the Resource & Crisis Helpline, the texters/chatters wanted help understanding the pandemic and expressed debilitating fear associated with the COVID-19 virus for themselves and their loved ones. As the months went on, the texts/chats shifted to deep loneliness and the effects of isolation. Domestic violence, substance use and mental health were the primary subjects of those reaching out for help. 

In late summer, something unexpected happened. The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, with funding from the Michigan legislature, issued a Request For Proposal for a statewide 24/7 crisis call/text/chat service. Thanks to our experience, Common Ground’s proposal was chosen to operate the Michigan Crisis & Access Line (MiCAL) that would be available for ALL citizens of Michigan as a community benefit.

Also during this time, the Federal Communications Commission approved a national three-digit number of 988 for crisis calls and texts, which is in the planning stage across the states. Similar to 911 for law enforcement, fire department and EMS, 988 will be for mental health and substance abuse emergencies. Most states are considering financing 988 like 911, which is through our phone bills. There is demand for 988 as the federal government estimates more than 44,000,000 calls and texts within the first 2 years. 

Since Common Ground’s mission is to help people move from crisis to hope, we have been actively advocating for state and national public policy for sustainable funding for crisis calls/texts/chats for all people. Can you imagine if 911 was reliant on fundraising through donors? That would never happen. People demand the 911 serve as part of our public safety net.

Because of the investment from Impact100 Oakland County and other key funders, Common Ground was able to bring 24/7 text/chat to our community and leverage our experience to bring the service state-wide and soon across the country.

Thank you, Impact100 Oakland County, for not only your impact on Common Ground but your role in helping to bring this critical crisis service to people across the great state of Michigan!

We cannot create amazing stories like the one Heather shared without our members! Please renew or join today if you haven’t yet, and please share this story with any friends and family who may be on the fence about joining.

We appreciate you…today and always!