May 10th, 2016 – Friends of REACH recognize volunteer Gretchen Tope

Article also available at The Mountaineer.

gretchen tope lifetime volunteer

Gretchen Tope, center, was recognized by members of Friends of REACH for the thousands of hours she has volunteered on the REACH Hotline.

The Friends of REACH recognized Gretchen Tope, a long-time volunteer with the REACH of Haywood Helpline, in a ceremony and reception on April 13 at the agency’s office.

REACH board President Pat Janke and Friends of REACH Chairwoman Susan Smith presented Tope with an engraved crystal paperweight in recognition of and gratitude for her service from 2007-15. Over her eight years as a volunteer, she served 443 Helpline shifts, which resulted in 5,361 donated hours.

“This feels funny, getting recognized, because I like to be in the background in whatever I do,” Tope said. “But I am always talking to everyone I know about the great work that REACH does in the community, helping so many individuals and families in crisis from domestic violence or sexual assault. I always felt like I was making a difference in someone’s life whenever I returned that Helpline call.”

The REACH Helpline is the agency’s 24-hour crisis line that victims/survivors can call for assistance.  When the office is closed, volunteers answer the calls that come in, directing callers to the services they need.

“Gretchen was our rock for Thursday nights and other times we scheduled her in,” said Buffy Queen, Helpline volunteer coordinator. “We could always count on her.”

Friends of REACH is the service group made up of volunteers in all areas of the agency including the board of directors, Within Reach Resale Store in Hazelwood, the REACH Helpline and special events. It is instrumental in helping REACH fulfill its mission of serving survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating abuse and elder abuse.

For more information on how to become a Friend of REACH volunteer, call REACH of Haywood at 456-7898 or visit

Support REACH

REACH of Haywood County, Inc. serves survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault through advocacy, community outreach and prevention education to empower individuals to live a self-sufficient life free of violence.


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