Scarlet Listeners: Serving Community Members in Need

 By: Brian Connors

Everybody needs help from time to time.

Scarlet Listeners is a student-run hotline that offers over-the-phone counseling from trained paraprofessionals to students as well as members of surrounding communities.

The service provides an opening for people in the community to speak to anonymous volunteers about anything that is going on in their lives. They specialize in issues such as relationships, bullying, discrimination, depression, anxiety, grief and self-harm.

Scarlet Listeners are available Sunday-Thursday from the hours of 6 p.m. – midnight. They take calls during both the fall and the spring semesters. There are about 30 active members volunteering at the hotline, and approximately between two and four volunteers taking calls per shift.

A volunteer at Scarlet Listeners discussed just how rigorous the training program is. She wished to remain anonymous, because Scarlet Listeners is an anonymous hotline, and all calls and names are kept completely confidential.

“We trained eight hours a week for an eight-week period, with some of the best people you could hope to learn from,” she said. “We also had intensive crisis training which consisted of 16 hours of work over the weekend.”

The volunteers at Scarlet Listeners are extremely skilled and caring individuals who provide comfort and a safe-space for anyone who calls in.

“I really like the feeling of knowing that I could be there for someone,” she said. “I know that’s cliché, but it’s just nice to know that I was able to lend an ear. We all have times when we want to talk to someone and feel like no one is around to listen.”

Along with taking calls and talking to callers, Scarlet Listeners provide referrals to other hotlines that may be better suited to helping the caller at that time. These hotlines include The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, We Care, 2nd Floors: Youth Hotline, Hotline for Self Harm, and Trevor Project.

Scarlet Listeners begin recruiting for new volunteers in the first month of both the fall and spring semesters. Positions are available to undergraduate students who are currently enrolled at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. If interested in volunteering, or to find out more information, visit the Scarlet Listeners website and click on the “Volunteer with Us” tab.

Scarlet Listeners can be reached at 1-732-247-5555. For more information, visit their website at