PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Like most victims of trauma, Sherri Quint says she never expected she'd be faced with her own mortality on such violent terms.
"My former boyfriend attacked me at gunpoint while I was walking my dog," recalled Quint. "I was exiting the park and he started rushing at me with a gun pointed in my face."
The next thing she knew, he was wrestling with her as she struggled to get away, holding his hands over her mouth and demanding her car keys. Quint screamed for help, but no one was around.
"All of a sudden he just threw me on the ground and my head bounced off of a rock and split open and he ran," she remembered. "At that point, a garbage truck pulled into the parking lot and I flagged him down for help."
But this attempted abduction was not the end of her ordeal. Police warned her that her ex-boyfriend might return and advised her to not return to her home, so she spent the night at a local hotel while police searched for him.
The next morning police contacted her and brought her into the police station to inform her that they'd found him, and after a brief foot chase, he'd shot himself in the head and died.
"At that point I was in shock, and all I knew was that this was my fault and I made this happen," she said. She was overcome by feelings of guilt and waves of emotion when a stranger entered the room and helped calm her down and put things in perspective.
"Here was this woman, and she just kind of took this room full of people and scooted them all out, and just made me feel safe and calm and made me realize that this whole thing was not my fault," said Quint.
That woman was a volunteer with the Trauma Intervention Program, run by the Community Counseling Center.
"We are there in the moments when people are going through a traumatic event," explained Leslie Skillin, Crisis Team Manager for the Trauma Intervention Program (or TIP) of Portland. "We go in with our hearts wide open to try to be there for folks that need care and compassion."
TIP serves people dealing with crisis in the greater Portland area. Their volunteers are called in by first responders or emergency room staff to help victims better handle emotional distress.
"All the volunteers come from all different walks of life," stated Skillin. "We have attorneys, we have homemakers, we have retired professionals, we have business owners, nurses.
"It just really is a calling to want to be there for somebody else in their worst hour," she added.
The program has been helping people in the area for nearly nine years, and is in need of more volunteers to make sure people have someone they can lean on in their darkest hours.
On November 7th, the newest group of volunteers will begin an intensive two week training program that will teach them the skills and provide them with the resources they need to help others in need.
"If someone has the calling to do the work, then we want to make it happen for them," stated Skillin. She encourages people interested in learning more to call her at 207-553-9311 or visit www.tipmaine.org for more information.
"There are people around them that really do care and want to help them, help their families, help the police and fire and the emergency staff, so that everyone feels that support when really bad things happen," said Skillin.
Sherri Quint, who says she is still recovering from her emotional ordeal, believes having someone there so quickly that didn't judge her, but provided support and direction was a huge reason why she has been able to move on.
"It was wonderful. It made me feel safe," she explained. "They knew what to do and I didn't."