FirstLink History

1967

Volunteer Community Service began.

1968

Volunteers for Community Services incorporated.

1970

HotLine incorporated. Volunteer operated from 7 pm-1 am each day.

1973

First organized Holiday Clearing Bureau effort.

1976

First collaborative effort with the American Legion Toy Project and the Holiday Clearing Bureau.

1981

HotLine, Inc. became a 24-hour program following the merger of the Suicide Prevention Line previously answered at St. Lukes Hospital (now Sanford) and Southeast Human Service Center.

1983

Volunteers for Community Service and HotLine, Inc. merged – became HotLine Community Services. Programs included:

  • HotLine (24-hour) telephone listening and support, crisis intervention, information and referral.
  • Comprehensive Information and Referral program
  • Volunteer Center
  • Holiday Clearing Bureau
  • Emergency Services (This N That Shop, Emergency Food Pantry, Inc.)

1984

HotLine Community Services merged with United Way of Cass-Clay and became Community Resource Division.

1987

Became accredited through American Association of Suicidology (AAS).

1990

HotLine accepted responsibility for the YWCA Phone Friend telephone warm line.

1991

United Way’s Community Resources Division became a nonprofit subsidiary of
 United Way of Cass-Clay and became Community Resources, Inc. Programs included:

  • Coats for Kids
  • Phone Friend
  • Gifts in Kind
  • Management Assistance Program
  • Holiday Clearing Bureau
  • Volunteer Center
  • HotLine

1993

Community Resources, Inc. was reorganized and a full-time director was hired. Community Resources, Inc. programs included:

  • Coats for Kids
  • Holiday Clearing Bureau
  • HotLine (initiated CARRIER ALERT and Suicide Survivors Support Group;
  • Phone Friend merged into HotLine telephone lines)
  • Volunteer Center
  • PEW Cultural Diversity Project (Fiscal administration)
  • United Way maintained the Gifts in Kind and Management Assistance Program
  • Suicide Survivors’ Support Group began

1994

Community Resources, Inc. discontinued their partnership in the Coats For Kids program (October)

1995

United Way of Cass-Clay and Community Resources, Inc. dissolved their parent/subsidiary relationship (January). Community Resources, Inc. became its own free standing nonprofit organization. Programs included:

  • Holiday Clearing Bureau
  • HotLine
  • Volunteer Center
  • PEW Cultural Diversity Project (Fiscal administration)

1996

Began Suicide Education Outreach in local schools

1997

The Volunteer Center initiated the Nonprofit Board Development Training (January)

1998

Community Resources, Inc. changed its name to FirstLink and reorganized. Programs included:

  • Department of Information and Crisis Services
  • Department of Volunteer Services
  • Department of Community Outreach
  • Holiday Clearing Bureau
  • Experienced Parent Project

2002

Reorganized.  Programs Included:

  • Crisis and Suicide Intervention Services
  • Listening and Support Services
  • Information and Referral Services (including volunteer resources)
  • Holiday Clearing Bureau
  • Experienced Parent Project

2005

Director of Volunteer Center was hired and Disaster Volunteer Coordination is re-established.Community Emergency Response TEAM (CERT) training is established under the Volunteer Center. FirstLink administrative office moves to new location on 13th Avenue, in Fargo.

2006

Holiday Clearing Bureau changed its name to Season of Hope and partnered with The Salvation Army to distribute holiday gifts and food baskets.

2007

FirstLink began providing 2-1-1 service for calls that originate in Cass County, ND and Clay County, MN.  Received the Crisis Center Award for Community Engagement from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL).  Began offering LivingWorks Education’s Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) workshop to community members.

2009

FirstLink received accreditation from the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS).  The first Teen CERT class was held at West Fargo High School.  Experienced Parent Project was no longer a project at FirstLink.

Photo: FirstLink coordinated the response saving Fargo-Moorhead in the 2009 flood. 

2010

FirstLink received the 2-1-1 designation for the entire state of North Dakota.  CERT/Teen CERT was given back to Cass County Emergency Managers/NDSU Emergency Management Department.  Partnered with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks and began Volunteer Appreciation Night.  Created the Community Volunteer Workshop.  Holiday gift-giving program was restructured and renamed to Giving Tree of Hope. Programs Included:

  • Information and Crisis Services
  • Volunteer Center
  • Giving Tree of Hope

2011

FirstLink began to refer to the 24-hour 2-1-1 service (formerly HotLine) as the FirstLink 2-1-1 Helpline.  Receives re-accreditation through American Association of Suicidology (AAS). Began the Nonprofit Opportunity Fair with NDSU to connect volunteers.

2012

FirstLink receives certification as a Child Abduction Response Team (CART) member. Began an Ongoing Suicide Follow-up Program funded by the North Dakota Department of Health.

2013

FirstLink’s Giving Tree of Hope program partnered with Toys for Tots to provide holiday gifts to those in Cass County, ND and Clay County, MN.

2014

FirstLink expanded the Giving Tree of Hope program by becoming the local Toys for Tots coordinator.  Began offering Mental Health First Aid USA trainings to the community.  The Volunteer Center became known as the Volunteer Network.

2015

FirstLink receives re-accreditation through Alliance of Information and Referral Services (AIRS).  Began offering LivingWorks Education’s safeTALK alertness workshop to the community.  Began offering Youth Mental Health First Aid USA to adults who regularly interact with young people. Hit a milestone by handling the millionth call.

2018

FirstLink added a Community Navigator program to help connect those who are struggling with addiction or have a loved one struggling with addiction to resources. We were also able to begin offering texting for our 211 line so community members can find resources, listening and support, and crisis intervention by texting their zip code to 898-211.

2019

FirstLink’s Statewide Suicide Follow-up Call Team received the Partnership Building Award from the North Dakota Association of Nonprofits, recognizing community leadership.