The Contra Costa Crisis Center is celebrating 50 years of service!

With very humble beginnings in 1963, we opened our doors and connected our telephone lines alongside pioneering crisis centers across the nation. Important social changes were emerging in this country in 1963 – growing public dissatisfaction with the quality and capacity of existing mental health care services; new federal policies calling for release back into the community, of (previously) institutionalized mental health care consumers; the touchtone telephone was developed as it became more affordable and offered a new level of user anonymity. Finally, a very important change occurred in California in 1963 – suicide began to be formally recognized as a health issue – no longer considered breaking a law.

In 1963 the United States and Russia were in a heated race to the moon, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were blowing up the charts, zip codes were introduced for the first time, The Outer Limits was premiered on black and white television and six-year-old Donny Osmond appeared for the first time on the Andy Williams Show. Then governor of Alabama, George Wallace, was aggressively promoting segregation, Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial and President John F. Kennedy made history by legislating equal pay for women. 1963 was also the year President Kennedy was assassinated.

In 1963 the Crisis Center was launched by the Contra Costa County Mental Health Association and called Troubled Teens & Twenties & Suicide Prevention. A handful of mental health professionals, nurses, and Clipped Wings, a group of former airline hostesses, volunteered to answer afterhours telephone calls from depressed and suicidal individuals living in Contra Costa County. Dr. Donald Fisher served as the first president of the organization and personally paid the telephone bills. The first program income was a personal donation by the director of the Mental Health Association for the sum of $197.50.

In 1963, Crisis Center calls were mechanically relayed to the homes of volunteers after-hours and on weekends in order to provide 24-hour coverage and our annual call total was 139.

During these 50 years of continuous crisis response, the Crisis Center has grown in size and deepened in capacity. We have always maintained our community outreach and prevention services, developed a large grief and bereavement-counseling program and operated it with trained volunteers and interns for the last 40 years. And eight years ago, we launched a robust 211 Information & Referral service assisting Contra Costa County residents in need of access to vital social services. In the past year the Crisis Center added on-line crisis chat support and became one of six call centers nationwide responding to not only its local veteran calls, but to more than 6000 overflow crisis veteran calls routed from the National Veteran’s Administration.

Today the Crisis Center’s annual call volume is greater than 70,000 with 23 local and national telephone lines directed to our call center around the clock. We serve more than 1000 bereaved adults and children on average each year and are offering grief support groups in all three regions of the county. We have a robust volunteer program that magnifies our capacity to serve. We have initiated an endowment and are 26 months from retiring our mortgage – strengthening our roots in the community and ensuring crisis response and grief support remain available for all who need them.

Thank You

The Crisis Center is grateful to report the following support in the past quarter:
Kaiser Permanente $5,000; Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation $25,000; PG&E Foundation $20,000; Bank of the West $5,000; Thomas J. Long Foundation $25,000; John Muir Mt. Diablo Community Health Fund $11,300; Crescent Porter Hale $25,000; Chevron Corporation $25,000, McKesson Foundation $25,000

Welcome New Members, Board of Trustees

Bonnie Glatzen, Attorney at Law, Partner, Nixon Peabody
Michael Rekasis, Finance Industry Professional, Retired
Francesca Delgado, Board Fellow, UC Berkeley
Peri Weisberg, Board Fellow, UC Berkeley

Golden Anniversary Gala – November 2, 2013

The Contra Costa Crisis Center’s 50th Golden Anniversary Year Gala will be held at the Diablo Country Club on November 2, 2013. We have an exciting and fun-filled evening planned and we hope you will join us. For further information please RSVP online or contact Rocio Polanco at or 925-939-1916 X100.


The Board of Trustees is looking for new leadership volunteers – members of the community who would like to serve as members of the Contra Costa Crisis Center’s Board of Trustees.

Because the Crisis Center is a non-profit agency, it exists solely to serve the residents of Contra Costa County. It is a vital component of the community’s overall safety net and the Board of Trustees’ role is to ensure that the agency remain strong and available for generations to come. The Board’s primary duty is governance; confirming that legal and fiduciary standards are kept. If you are interested in being considered for a Board position, please contact Rhonda James, Executive Director, 925-939-1916 X107 or