Helping Others

From Volunteer to Clinical Director

Licensed Mental Health Counselor Shaina Anderson joined Project HELP in 2005. She began her journey as a volunteer for people affected by rape, violence, sudden death and trauma. In 2006 she was brought on as an advocate for Project HELP and its efforts to support victims of traumatic events. Whilst passionately pursing the mission of the organization’s mission, Shaina continued her education. After receiving her Masters, Shaina continued to serve clients with counseling and therapy to include EMDR. Her success with trauma victims proved her value, earning her a promotion to Clinical Director. Shaina has diligently worked on enhancing the structure of Project HELP’s therapy program, today she offers clinical supervision to the Project HELP staff and interns from Florida Gulf Coast University. Shaina serves as an asset in all types of clinical and response situations. Executive Director Eileen Wesley boasts that Anderson serves as “second in command” continuing, “She is my right arm.” Shaina shows “passion beyond the stars” and her love for Project HELP shows in everything she does.

Angel In The Office

Mary Stuczynski has been a staple to the Project HELP organization since 1994, and with her dedication to callers in crisis, Mary became the lead volunteer in 2009. Mary’s responsibilities are not only working with individuals in crisis, but transferring of the HELPline to our volunteers. There is where she builds a rapport with each and every volunteer and updates them on needs of the HELPline, whether it’s talking with callers or scheduling. Not only is she efficient, but she is one of few who have received a 100% on the monitoring exam for HELPline grant accountability. Executive Director Eileen Wesley refers to Mary as, “a beautiful, compassionate, and giving human being and an unbelievable advocate and information sharer. She is an angel with wings!” Mary Stuczynski was the recipient of the prestigious Volunteer of the Year award presented by eBella in 2017. Even with the heartbreaking passing of her husband, Mary continued to give her time to Project HELP. Prior to starting every shift, Mary tells everyone in the office to “put your wings on.” There are not enough words to explain Mary’s support and love that she gives to our community!

Student Volunteer Saves A Life On His First Day

Project HELP works with dignity and compassion to ease the pain of those who have been affected by rape, violence, crime, or loss of a loved one. This happened recently, Abraham, a young man who answered the HELPline 239-262-7227/800-329-7227 at Project HELP, found himself on the line with a young woman on the verge of taking her own life. Abraham was able to use his training to talk the woman down and remain on the line with her as she traveled to the hospital to get the treatment she so desperately needed. At a moment in which the woman felt so alone, she was able to lean on a complete stranger who offered his time.

All too often with our day to day lives we tend to get caught up with our own issues and do not stop to look at the people around us. Abraham, a young man from Florida Gulf Coast University, a college that provides interns to Project HELP, spends his time doing the exact opposite. In addition to taking the Safe Talk training, a suicide prevention course offered by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Abraham completed a total of 30 hours of online training and 8 hours of face to face training. It was the knowledge and understanding from these instructions that prepared the young man for this pivotal moment in that woman’s life.

After the event, the woman called Project HELP and said to Eileen Wesley, Executive Director of Project HELP, “The man on the HELPline saved my life.

Mental health is a serious issue in America. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 47,000 people fell victim to suicide. This makes it one of the leading causes of death in America. Project HELP is one organization that will not accept this statistic. As a growing organization, stories like the one above are becoming more prevalent. Project HELP is taking action to prevent suicide and assist survivors.

Project HELP receives Community Foundation of Collier County grant to empower teens

The Community Foundation of Collier County has awarded Project HELP a $2,500 grant to create a Sexual Assault Survivor Empowerment Group for teenagers in the area.

Project HELP, a nonprofit that works to ease the pain of those affected by rape, violence, crime or loss of a loved one, applied for this grant with the hopes of furthering its mission and providing additional services for those that need it most.

“The need for this project is a critical part of the healing journey,” said Project HELP Executive Director Eileen Wesley. “After a sexual assault has occurred, whether a victim chooses to report to police or not, Project HELP offers each victim free and confidential counseling, therapy, advocacy and support groups. These groups are a next step in the process.”

The funding from this grant will go toward creating empowerment groups with the goal of helping affected teenagers deal with what has happened to them in a therapeutically guided peer setting, leaving with the skills to make healthier and better decisions.

Empowerment can be shown through art, music, clay therapy and yoga, all of which will be covered through this grant.

“These groups are not closed and they run continuously. They help victims of sexual violence become stronger and better off than they were prior to their assault,” Eileen said.

Contact Project HELP to learn more about these programs, volunteer opportunities or if you’re interested in making a donation to the cause.

How to Listen when someone's upset

The following is an excerpt from the article The Antidote to Anger and Frustration
The power of emotional validation, Published on June 18, 2011 by Guy Winch, Ph.D. in The Squeaky Wheel.

When our loved-one erupts in anger and frustration, the last thing most of us think to do is to pour fuel on the fire by telling them they should feel angry and frustrated. Yet when done correctly, providing someone emotional validation can have extremely surprising results that strengthen relationship bonds.

The Recipe for Authentic Emotional Validation

Here are the steps for offering authentic emotional validation. But take note: You must do all 5 steps and do them correctly to achieve the desired impact.

1. Let the person complete their narrative so you have all the facts.
2. Convey you get what happened to them from their perspective (whether you agree with that perspective or not and even if their perspective is obviously skewed).
3. Convey you understand how they felt as a result of what happened (from their perspective).
4. Convey that their feelings are completely reasonable (which they are given their perspective).
5. Convey empathy or sympathy (not pity!) for their emotional reactions.

Lastly, if your loved ones are not good at emotional validation when you vent to them about your own emotionally painful experiences, email them this article-it will be worth it!

To read the full article go to:

Project Help is Collier County’s local rape and crisis center offering FREE & CONFIDENTIAL services. Services may include evidence collection, exam, immediate crisis intervention, working with law enforcement if reporting, counseling groups, court assistance, information and referrals, and our 24 hour hotline. If you need HELP…call our hotline: 239-262-7227