Hotline to help members work through tragedy, personal problems

When tragedy hits multiple parts of the country, reaching out to the hundreds — sometimes thousands — of affected members can be an impossible task. After the hurricanes hit multiple parts of the country in late summer, Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust (SMOHIT) created a hotline where members could call to do anything from vent frustrations to get professional mental health counseling.

The hotline is open 24 hours, seven days a week to any member or their family that needs it. The voice at the other end is Daria Todor, a licensed social worker and addictions counselor.

“Our trustees saw a need when all the hurricanes were coming through,” said Randy Krocka, SMOHIT administrator. “The hotline was created to address people’s problems, more than replacing their items. There was someone they could talk to.”

Unfortunately, the tragedies of 2017 didn’t end with devastation from natural disasters. With the shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people on Oct. 1, followed by the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas on Nov. 5 that killed 26 people, the need for the hotline became even more apparent.

“Our members typically concentrate on fixing things — repairing the damage. But when the senseless happens, no one knows exactly what to do.

“It was one thing after another in 2017,” Krocka said. “It’s a valuable resource. We just need to get the word out to members it’s available to them.”

Todor has experience as an employee assistance program counselor and worked with Washington, D.C.-area airline employees after the Sept. 11 attacks.

“We all witnessed what went on in our nation last year, and we can be vicariously affected,” Todor said. “It’s therapeutic in and of itself to have it offered.”

Todor and Krocka admit the first step — making the initial call — is the most difficult and calling one time “can help alleviate stress enough to work through it,” Todor added.

Calls can be made to the hotline for any variety of reasons and don’t have to be directly related to any of the above tragedies. Even if the problem seems small, talking it out can help members find the answer or work it out with Todor’s help.

To date, the hotline has received funding to continue through 2018.

“I really think it’s the matter of more time and opportunity for people to find out about the program,” Todor said. “Once business managers, local presidents, administrators and training directors know more about it, their referrals will help members find their way. I would like to see more people contacting the hotline. It’s such a valuable resource.”

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