As a volunteer with the Trauma Intervention Program of Greater Portland, Steve Sanborn provides more than a community service.

“To help someone in that initial period of crisis, you really feel like you are making a difference in that person’s life,” said Sanborn, a South Portland resident.

He and other TIP volunteers take calls from local police and fire departments and hospital personnel around the clock, requesting their assistance to help people through traumatic events. They are called upon, for example, to provide support to a child who has witnessed a tragic event, a survivor of a crime or serious vehicle accident, loved ones after a suicide or an elderly person after the death of a spouse.


But the Greater Portland nonprofit organization, launched in 2005, is now facing a volunteer shortage.

Typically, trained volunteers are on call for three 12-hour shifts a month. With the shortage, some volunteers have taken on additional shifts.

While TIP covers all of Greater Portland, many of the calls come from Scarborough, South Portland, Portland and Westbrook, Sanborn said. Volunteers from those towns would be greatly beneficial to the program.


TIP Director Pam Grant said she wishes she had the answer to why there is a shortage of volunteers right now, but she hopes more people will want to help neighbors during the worst moments of their life.

“We receive notes back from many of our survivors thanking us for being there for them when they needed it the most,” Grant said.

First responders benefit from the program, too, she said.

“One of the most positive effects that I have seen is how much the first responders rely on our volunteers,” Grant said. “You can almost see the relief on their faces that we will be there for the survivors while the first responders are doing their job.”

TIP will hold a two-week training academy for new volunteers starting Sept. 21. For more information, go to or email

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