By Eric Banford
ITHACA – Every year, the Crisisline of Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service helps thousands of people in emotional distress with free and confidential crisis counseling.
To support those efforts, the Crisisline is hosting its Fifth Annual “Dancing for a Cause” fundraiser on Saturday, April 1. Those who love dance, no matter the genre or skill, are invited to sign up to raise funds for the Crisisline and The Chat of Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service.
“We’re raising funds because our funding streams have been pretty flat for the past 10 years,” said Lee-Ellen Marvin, director of SPCS. “Each year it becomes harder for us to fulfill our commitment to the community if we don’t get a little more support.
“This fundraiser has become an important way for us not only to raise funds but also to raise awareness about our services,” she added. “It let’s more people know that we are out there.”
The Crisisline currently serves 10 counties around the Finger Lakes region, and it’s free to anyone in need.
“There is nowhere else you can go to get help with emotional issues pretty much on demand from 10 a.m. until 1 a.m.,” said Marvin. “There is somebody at the line to listen and support and help the caller find their own best solution. We could tell people what to do, but that’s not helpful.
“Often people just need that supportive, non-judgmental listening, and then their own brain starts to kick into care,” she added. “They start to figure out what they need. It’s an amazing way to get support when you’re stuck emotionally.”
Dancing for a Cause is similar to athletic fundraisers: People sign up at IthacaCrisis.org and ask their dancing partners, friends, family and co-workers to support their efforts. The event allows fundraisers to choose their own challenge, whether it is to attend classes, perform, dance for joy in their own living room, or simply dance at the celebration on April 1.
Dance classes will take place from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, April 1, for participants who have raised or donated at least $50 to Dancing for a Cause. Local dance teachers will host workshops, each involving a different kind of dance tradition.
“For the dance classes, we’ve got Flamenco and Hula instructors set up,” Marvin said, “and we’re working on Swing and other styles.”
That evening, a dance celebration open to the public will take place from 7-10 p.m. at The Space@Greenstar, located at the corner of Meadow and Court streets in Ithaca. The evening will start with special performance from participants in the afternoon workshop, plus local dance groups planning something unique for the event. A group from Corning will perform their Bangra (Indian folk) dance, Russian folk dance, Hula and Flamenco will be included.
Ithaca favorite Rik Daniels, who is known for his acrobatic wheelchair dancing, and Nicole Agaronnik, certified Wheelchair Ballroom Dance instructor, will perform. Social dancing starts at 8 p.m. with the Pelotones, an Ithaca-based jazz and blues quartet.
All funds raised through Dancing for a Cause will support the Crisisline, a free and confidential service for the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions of New York State. Last year’s event raised $18,000, which helped to support the volunteer and staff counselors of SPCS who help thousands of people every year, providing empathetic and non-judgmental listening to people with large or small emotional problems.
“The Crisisline, available at (800) 272-8255, is such an important resource for people struggling with depression or anxiety and going through traumatic experiences,” said Marvin. “It’s remarkable how something as simple as being heard can make a big difference.”
Fundraising will also support The Chat, a text messaging service that is available from 6-9 p.m. on weekday evenings at (607) 269-4500.
The Chat service has proven popular with younger people, who have grown up comfortable with texting as a popular way to communicate.
“We know that there are lots of teenagers and young adults who are uncomfortable talking about their feelings, but they are pretty comfortable sharing their feelings via text,” said Marvin. “It’s a limited service at this point since it needs a separate crisis counselor assigned to the shift.”
Those who would like to participate in Dancing for a Cause but cannot attend the event are welcome to create their own dance challenge, or pick a fundraiser or team to support through a donation.
To sign up or learn more information about Dancing for a Cause and Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service, visit www.ithacacrisis.org, call (607) 272-1505, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.