Interested in helping people
in crisis? The Listening Ear trains new volunteers three times a year.
To find out about the next training program
and how to become a crisis counselor please check the
Volunteer section or contact us.
A History of The Listening Ear
Records from the early days of the Ear
are scarce. This timeline was pieced together from old articles and
meeting minutes, and is far from complete. If you have information
about those days or corrections to the history posted here, please contact
email@example.com, or leave a
message at 337-1728.
May 21, 1969
||A meeting was held with
the MSU Director of Student Activities and individuals involved with
community mental health, secondary schools, the state legislature,
enforcement agencies, community organizations, the Chamber of
Commerce, human relations, and religious organizations both from
Michigan State University and the community at large. A presentation
was made proposing the establishment of a volunteer crisis center.
While people raised questions as to the feasibility, the overall
reaction was positive.
July 15, 1969
||The Listening Ear opened
its doors at 547 1/2 East Grand River. The first training session was
designed by Dr. Dozier Thornton, a psychology professor from Michigan
State University. The program ran for 40 hours (this quickly grew
into the 60+ hour training of today).
The founders decided that they would
stay open if they received at least 100 calls each month for the first
three months. They received more than 1500. The Listening Ear was
the first crisis center in Michigan, and the first all-volunteer
crisis center in the United States. The annual operating budget in
those early days was about $6000.
February 7, 1972
||The Problem Pregnancy
Counseling program began. PPC counselors did weekly shifts in
addition to regular crisis shifts. They counseled girls and women
dealing with pregnancy and abortion. While the program started out
slow, by August they were receiving more calls "than could comfortably
be handled." The program ran for two years, and was phased out around
May of 1974.
July 15, 1974
||Fifth anniversary open
house held at the Ear from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.
||The Ear considered moving
to the Hagadorn Professional Building. After extensive discussion, it
was decided by consensus vote not to relocate.
||The Rape Counseling
program, (the forerunner of the
Sexual Assault Counseling program), was established, providing
free, short-term counseling to rape survivors as well as advocacy and
February 20, 1977
||Rape Counseling was
renamed Sexual Assault Counseling.
October 9, 1977
reference to the JCC (named the "Journal of Creative Communication")
July 15, 1979
||The Ear celebrated its
tenth anniversary with a three-day festival and general shindig. By
this point, The Listening Ear had handled more than 100,000 calls and
(As a side note, meeting minutes from
this time period still include comments like "Far out!")
May 13, 1982
||For a fundraiser, Ear
volunteers completed a 42-hour volleyball marathon. (Sadly, the Ear
missed breaking the world record by approximately 30 hours. Still,
two days of non-stop volleyball is nothing to sneer at).
April 23, 1983
||SAC co-sponsored the East
Back the Night march for the first time.
November 12, 1989
||Listening Ear 20th
Anniversary Bash, held at the Holiday Inn. Our annual operating
budget had now grown to $27,000.
April 13, 1990
||The Listening Ear was
named the 113th of 1000 Points of Light for our "outstanding efforts
in behalf of [the] community" by President George Bush (the First).
||The Listening Ear moved
to 325 Grove St. near the "Habitrail" parking garage on Grand River.
||After a brief stay at the
new building, the Ear once again relocated - this time to 423 Albert
||The Ear entered the
computer age with a new DeskJet printer. Meeting minutes were no
longer printed on illegible dot matrix printers. Instead, a wide
variety of new and exotic fonts were used to make meeting minutes
September 18, 1994
Celebration held in Patriarch Park.
June 27, 1998
||The first annual
Bob's Run was held
in memory of Bob Forsythe. The run raised $7500 for The Listening Ear
in this first year, and has been a well-attended and important
community event ever since.
August 7, 1999
||30th Anniversary Picnic,
because Listening Ear volunteers never seem to tire of parties and
April 1, 2000
||Happy April Fool's Day! With
the help of Two Men and a Truck, The Listening Ear moved from 423
Albert St. to
1017 East Grand River. This is the Ear's fourth home over the
past 31 years.
April 1, 2003
||Continuing the new April Fool's Day
tradition, the Listening Ear moved up the street to our current
313 West Grand River Avenue, in East Lansing, Michigan.
April 28, 2003
||The Listening Ear was honored with
East Lansing's Crystal Award, given
to individuals, groups, organizations or businesses who have made
valuable contributions to the quality of life in
||The Listening Ear continues its more
than 36 year tradition of providing 24-hour free crisis
services to anyone in need. Since our inception in 1969, we have
talked to more than 300,000 callers and walk-ins. We are the oldest
operating crisis center in the nation. Our
program has been used as a model for programs across the country. We
have provided several thousand volunteers with what many describe as
the most powerful growth experience of their lives.