Introduction - Dial Help was one of the lucky winners of Logobee’s logo design makeover contest this year. We recently had the chance to speak with Jessica Dellavala, executive director at Dial Help about the organization and the logo design project. Dial help is a non-profit that provides crisis intervention and counseling services to the people of Michigan State.
Jessica - It’s a pretty exciting year for us because we’re now into our 35th year of service. So we’re actually one of the oldest continually operating crisis services centers in the country. In addition to crisis work, we provide victims services for the region. We also provide community outreach and education to try to prevent crisis, especially with kids and families before it ever starts.
Russell - So I’m interested to know how the organization got started, although that was 35 years ago maybe you weren’t around!
Jessica - Sure, basically it got started when a group of parents from the community and Michigan Tech University got together. They realized that although the Upper Peninsula is this idyllic place most of the time, that a lot of the problems that were plaguing the rest of the United States were starting to make their way in, some of them including serious drug use and abuse. So these parents got together and decided they would set up an anonymous call service that parents and kids could use to call in for help. So that was how we started out. There were a group of volunteers, a single room with one phone line and a couch. Over the years we’ve developed to the point where we handle about 30,000 calls a year from across the entire Upper Peninsula. We handle suicidal calls from all over the state, and we’ve added program after program as we’ve seen the need arise. So the original need was for families and kids to get help with drug issues, but we now cover everything from substance abuse, suicide, family and relational problems, domestic violence, sexual assault, grief, bereavement etc.
It’s funny because we’re having a big 35th birthday party in August, and we’ve had old board members and volunteers get in touch with us and they’ve been amazed to see how we’ve grown as an organization!
Russell – So you’re not looking to add any other services right now?
Jessica – Well right now we’re looking at our agency and all of the services that we offer to try to assess how integral they are to our mission. We’ve found specifically that due to cuts in mental health services, there has been a growing need for people that just need somebody to talk to and are going through a rough time. These days, it seems like it’s only the very rich or the people with very serious cases that are able to obtain access to mental health services. So this is one of the areas where we’re looking to fill the gap. If you lose a parent or spouse, or have a bad relationship breakup, you really need somebody to talk to, and we’re looking to fill that role.
Russell – I’ve read in the news about an economic downturn in Michigan. Has this affected your ability to raise funds in any way, or added any undue stress on your organization?
Jessica - It’s always difficult to raise money, but I think that because of the series of international tragedies and disasters, many people who would normally give to a local agency are now looking at an expanded horizon. We have a lot of people tell us, “Well you guys have a crisis center but what about the victims of 911?” So we definitely have a challenge in raising money locally. A lot of people even think that we’re funded by the government, but we’re not. We’re very fortunate because we have had people like LogoBee help us out, and it is amazing how generous people are. The life of a non-profit is always about getting by, not necessarily about making money. We’ve been around now for over 35 years so it’s safe to say we’ve been successful.
Russell – That’s great. So I was hoping we could talk about the logo design makeover contest a little. Where did you hear about the contest?
Jessica - I think I heard it through the chronicle of philanthropy. Anyways it picked my interest, because going into our 35th year, the board is looking to evaluate us and asses our viability. So we thought that a new logo design would help us rejuvenate the organization a little bit.
Also, our services deal with crisis intervention and counseling, and our old logo had an icon of a tree with roots and a circle around it. It served us well for many years, but I think there was some confusion as people would interpret us as an environmental organization rather than a crisis center. One of the things I realized was that our old brand didn’t really represent what Dial Help was all about.
One of the reasons why non-profits have trouble doing things like branding and identity is simply that they don’t have the time! You guys have been so patient with us gathering information, submitting changes to us and submitting the next set of logo designs. In any case, the bridge logo that LogoBee came up with uses very soft colors that evoke a sense of calm. And I think most of us that looked at the bridge really liked it because we’re trying to help people overcome obstacles and tough times, so I think the logo really captures this idea very well.
Russell - So is there anything our readers can do to help?
Jessica - It would be really neat if people knew more about crisis centers. I know that especially since this last August when hurricane Katrina hit down in New Orleans, everyone was disappointed with how things were handled, but what people don’t know is that there was a call put out nationally to all the crisis centers in the country, and we all sent our workers down there to help out directly. But we help individuals in crisis everyday, and it isn’t something that gets covered on Good Morning America. It’s often overlooked. Every day there are people that will encounter a serious kind of crisis requiring proper counseling.
For your readers I would just encourage them to learn more about crisis centers and even think about working / volunteering for one. It’s great work and can be very rewarding. It’s obviously a much needed resource as we handle over 30,000 calls a year.
Russell – Well I think that’s about all the questions I had for you. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Jessica - Just thanks to you all at LogoBee. I think it’s really neat when people share their expertise with others. It’s really helpful for us to look professional when we’re talking to people. I think the newly designed logo has given a very nice boost to the morale of our agency, because our workers can say “Hey, we’re almost like a real business now!”