Listen Line Community Services to host annual dinner and auction fundraiser in Battle Ground


Listen Line Community Services, a nonprofit organization offering a helpline for people struggling, will host its annual dinner and auction fundraiser at 5:30 p.m., June 1 at the Battle Ground Community Center, 912 E Main St.

Auction proceeds will help the program continue its 24/7 hotline.

The Southwest Washington program offers a helpline where mental health professionals, or “listeners,” take calls from individuals who need to talk about their problems. The listeners can also guide callers toward appropriate professional help if they are struggling with booking an appointment or don’t have the right insurance. CEO Sharla Paso said the point is for callers to seek help before they reach a mental health crisis.

“We don’t counsel, but we do guide them toward the appropriate professional help that they are asking for, or suggest that ‘hey, there are some people who talk about what you’re talking about. You could choose to go to this kind of treatment,’ ” CEO Sharla Paso said.

Paso has been a nurse for 30 years and is trained in women’s health and mental health services from the University of Seattle. Listen Line began operating in October 2021 after Paso and her friends in the nursing field released a public survey regarding mental health. Paso said the 600 responses highlighted the uncomfortable nature of speaking about mental health struggles in public settings.

“Because we find that mental health has such a stigma around it, we who are struggling with it don’t want to talk about it, and people who are not struggling with it are afraid to talk about it. It’s like this big elephant in the room,” Paso said.

Listen Line also provides lessons to break down the stigma around mental health through educational programs. The organization has held three classes for the community so far. Paso plans to hold more in the future.

“[The program] removes the mystery of mental health challenges and actually gives language of how to speak about it and takes away the fear of having the conversations about mental health and even about suicide,” Paso explained.

Dinner and auction tickets cost $75 per seat. Meat and vegetarian food will be catered by Chuck’s Produce, with dessert available to guests. The organization raised $50,700 from ticket sales and auction proceeds at last year’s event. Paso said the proceeds are mainly used to pay the nonprofit’s listeners, who are on the line at all hours. Volunteers are seeking grants to continue funding Listen Line’s services, as well.

“By far, the biggest part of support is from the [annual] auction. It’s a really big encouragement for the listeners on board. When we see the support of the community, it helps us keep going and keep trying to do more for our community,” Paso said.

Listen Line will auction over 400 items in packages for guests, including sports packages and Yeti coolers. In addition, the nonprofit will auction getaways and free lessons offered by local businesses, including art classes and pottery programs. A short presentation about Listen Line and its impact on the community will be held during the dinner.

Readers can learn more about the auction and services offered by Listen Line at Donations can be made on its website. The 24/7 helpline can be called at 833-488-9888. Calls are confidential.