2016 IMAlive Year in Review

It’s A Small World

The holiday season is over and we all have taken our collective breaths. Relaxing after the Holiday Havoc I find time to reflect on the past year. Part of that reflection includes IMAlive. Pondering for hours (The Wife calls it “Goofing Off”) I got to thinking about how I would not be going to Orlando, FL this year. No, I am not thinking in terms of Florida warmth for a week while The Wife stays north to shovel snow. What I was mulling over was how great it would be to not have to hear the constant drone of Disney music – in particular the song “It’s a Small World”. It is such a perky, sweet ditty that after endless repetition remains a totally annoying earworm for weeks upon arriving home.

But in retrospect, as it applies to IMALive, the Small World is not that small. In the past year more than 100 volunteers have joined our ranks. What intrigues me is that our volunteers come from 5 of the 7 continents. That intrigue turned to thoughts of diversity. Our volunteers represent many age groups, every color of the rainbow flag and, most importantly, many levels of experience. It is satisfying to see such a diverse group unite and work together to empower those who come to IMAlive for help. But what creates the cohesiveness? What is our commonality? Hmmm?


I could go with the mundane desire to help and make the world a better place but I think it goes beyond that. The glue that cements IMAlive’s diversity are the tenets and fundamentals we all learned in HEART. The fact that we accept folks as equals and allow them to arrive at their own solutions is a big part of our effectiveness. Additionally, there is the nonjudgmental, respectful and empathic manner in which we interact with those in crisis. Couple that with our diversity and we really can help people see the hope that they can survive and thrive beyond the unhappy “Small World” created by their crises.

So let’s take a look at IMAlive’s Small World circa 2016. Our 174 Certified Responders (on 5 continents of the “Real World”) provided 14,276 supervised volunteer hours.   In 2016 the 10,706 persons in crisis contacting IMAlive chatted with a Certified Responder 80% of the time. The issues addressed in those chats are shown in the accompanying chart.

Problem Category Percent
Mental Health 55%
Suicide 47%
Interpersonal Relations 17%
Family Issues 14%
Abuse/Victimization 6%
Education 5%
Concrete Needs 4%
Sexuality 4%
Other Categories (Health, Child Abuse, Addiction, Pregnancy & Financial) Each > 4%


21% of those contacting IMAlive replied to our post chat questions. 62% of those responses indicated the individual felt better following the interaction AND 80% of those responding indicated that the volunteer they worked with was helpful. Nice work!


So now it is 2017 and our work is not done. The song, It’s A Small World, speaks of a world of laughter and tears as well as a world of hope and fears. In 2017 IMAlive certified volunteers will continue using their Active Listening Skills to empower those who come to us everyday. IMAlive will work to add new certified volunteers to its ranks so that it can more effectively meet the needs of those who come to us. In 2016 our volunteers did great work but there is still a great deal to do 2017. Alas there is no Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo magic to fix things. Our Small World is not Disney-esqe. Fair maidens, fairy godmothers and charming princes seem few and far between. Wicked stepsisters, nasty critters and witches are abundant and are the norm in the situations presented to us. In thinking about it I do suppose we do work a form of IMAlive Magic. We don’t have magic wands or fairy dust in our toolbox but we do have our dedication, training and supervisory support to harness our diversity into a wand of empowerment that helps those who come to us make those first steps out of the nastiness into hope.   Hmm – Is it possible our Small World does have Prince Charmings and Fairy Godmothers? I don’t know but if it does they are us!


Cue the music –

It’s a small world after all; it’s a small world after all

It’s a small world after all; it’s a small, small, small, small world

And fade to a 2017 of diversity, success, growth and helping! To our volunteer responder – Thank you, take care, and be good to yourselves.


John Plonski

Director of Training
Developer – Helping Emapthically As Responders Training (HEART)
View Our Year End Video below:

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