"Listening Post" Offers Willing Ears
People with something to say or get off their chest have a place to go
ANCHORAGE - Last week’s shooting in Connecticut has left many of us wondering if there isn’t more that we can do to help people who are obviously troubled. Beyond the cries for gun control or better mental health screening there is another approach that can sometimes make a difference for those who are struggling.
It’s the simple act of listening. In Anchorage there’s a place where they do that every day.
The Downtown Transit Center is a busy, noisy bus station filled with people night and day.
The people who visit The Listening Post are frequently homeless or struggling with a mental illness.
“And in listening there is the potential that they may make choices that are wise for themselves,” said Fran Victor, who started volunteering shortly after The Listening Post opened in 2008.
Volunteers are trained not to offer advice or judge in any way. They say allowing someone to be heard can have a power of its own.
“This is a very quiet place,” said volunteer Susan Elliott. “But every once in a while, somebody will come in and they will need to yell and scream about somebody who just died or somebody who's in jail and sometimes that happens. We just need to listen and then they've got it out and that's okay.”
Volunteers don’t always know what happens when the conversation ends.
“It’s really hard for some people to let go of the outcome,” said Elliott. “You don’t know what’s going to happen when somebody walks out the door.”
They can be assured of one thing: The power of listening and being listened to can make a difference in someone’s life.
The Listening Post is always looking for volunteers who have some time to give. They must be 18 or older and have a desire to listen. For more information go to http://listeningpostanchorage.com.