Alisha Olson Manages the “Epicenter” of The Bridge

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Alisha Olson outside The Bridge's Youth Response Center office. Mary, a sixteen-year-old from Minneapolis, first reached out to The Bridge for Youth via text message through The Bridge’s (612)400-SAFE text for help line. Through her text messages she expressed to The Bridge’s trained staff that she was suicidal and strongly considering self-harm. After a series of text conversations Bridge for Youth staff were able to deescalate the youth’s crisis and convinced her to come into The Bridge.

Since 400SAFE’s launch in October, Alisha and her staff have received over 5,000 text exchanges similar to Mary’s text conversation. Some of these texts can go on for hours and often times youth text back another day to check in.

As the supervisor of the YRC, Alisha oversees all the activity that happens in the YRC including recruiting, training and supervising over 40 staff and volunteers. Because the first point of contact clients have with The Bridge is the YRC, it has been referred to as the “epicenter” of The Bridge.

Alisha started as an intern working in the Emergency Shelter Program, then after a temporary stint as a Case Manager Float, was hired as a full time Case Manager before being promoted to Supervisor of the YRC.

She knew she wanted to go into social work at the beginning of her freshman year at Augsburg College.

“Growing up, my grandparents were always caregivers to my mother and our family, but also for my uncle who has a developmental disability, explains Alisha. “From a young age my grandparents created a value in me of helping others. I thought the natural thing to do would be to go into social work.”

Alisha’s previous practicum during her undergrad was at the Fair School Downtown, where she was supervised by the Social Worker overseeing K-3 and 9-12th grade students. In this position, she lead empowerment groups, co-facilitated a college readiness group, and did individual check-ins with students who needed additional support with academics or with family conflict.

Looking to the future, Alisha knows the 400SAFE will be a viable tool for The Bridge. “Teens lifeline is texting and now that we have 400SAFE, we can meet youth where they are and counsel and deal with crisis in a new way that is confidential and at their fingertips…literally!”.

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