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Joseph & Zeus

Joseph Fuentes discovered the Contra Costa Crisis Center as part of his career exploration.  He wanted to gain a better understating of what it would be like to counsel people, to help them work through issues.


“I’ve led a privileged life and learning about the difficulties people face has been very eye-opening.  Even more so now, than the five years I spent in the Navy, where I grew up and learned so much.”


Joseph found that many of the calls he answers on the crisis line or the 211 line are from people who are struggling everyday, facing hard decisions about the basics, like food and shelter.  When the struggles seem overwhelming or they face an emotional crisis, some talk of suicide.  “I guess what surprised me the most is the sheer number of people who need help, who are struggling, including veterans.  So many callers don’t have the ability to take care of themselves or their families.”


Then he shared what his own transition as a Call Specialist felt like.  “I was raised in the Mexican tradition, ‘Don’t broadcast your troubles, men have to be strong – you know, machismo.’  To hear all these different stories of struggle changed me.  I can tell you, I never expected a guy like me to get so emotionally involved in the stories of other people.  I’ve learned that strength is more than just muscle strength or stoicism.  It is compassion, empathy and understanding.”


“I wish everyone knew about the Contra Costa Crisis Center and knew more about mental health and how important it is to health in general.  Every moment in life has a story and I think the world would be a better place if everyone tried to have an open mind and an open heart.  To anyone wondering about volunteering I’d say – absolutely, do it.  Life is about gaining wisdom – this work will open your eyes.”