A few weeks ago, I sat down to collect my thoughts on my one-year anniversary, December 2nd, as the Executive Director of Samaritans.
All of the phrases ring true… What a year… Not what anyone expected… Would you change anything? The answers: Yes, indeed. Certainly not. And no – except, of course, for the pandemic itself.
It has been a year full of many things none of us could have imagined but it is without question also true that I could not be more grateful to be with Samaritans at this time, doing work that truly makes a difference, has an impact on people’s lives, and is rewarding. How fortunate I am, in so many ways.
In a time of instability, with so much newness and the unrelenting unknown, it has felt good to me to know that Samaritans is a solid place to find comfort, for volunteers to offer help, and for donors and foundations to help us meet the increased demand for our programs and ensure that they continue without interruption.
Even with the curveballs of 2020, here are a few of the highlights of my first year:
- Three and a half months in the office getting to know the amazing staff, meeting many Helpline and Grief Support Services volunteers in-person, and being welcomed by Board members and donors alike
- Experiencing our incredible Befriender training with a class of 15 other volunteers, and attending two heartwarming and powerful SafePlace meetings
- Watching our teams move quickly, effectively, and thoughtfully to create remote programs and services without missing a beat
- Witnessing the volunteer committees for the Breakfast for Hope and 5K Run/Walk for Suicide Prevention create impactful and meaningful virtual events as well as our inspiring Boston and TCS NYC Marathon teams who, even without marathons, remained engaged and dedicated to honoring loved ones and raising critical funds
- (Still) Mastering virtual meetings of all kinds as well as the break-out room
- Issuing our first Racial Equity & Social Justice statement, and striving to live up to it
- Spreading our mission and programs by talking with reporters and media programs including WBZ, WCVB, WBUR, NBC Online, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and several community cable television programs (Sharon, Canton, Burlington, and others!)
- Online meetings with more than a dozen state Representatives and Senators to share our suicide prevention training and support services information
- Witnessing the response from so many donors to our Year-End Match Challenge! We are more than half-way to the $150,000 challenge presented by three very generous donors!
I fully expect that year two will be as exciting, meaningful, and impactful as this year has been. Along with all of you, I am dedicated to reducing the incidence of suicide, providing connection and support to those who are struggling and those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday season.
Kathleen C. Marchi
If you or someone you love is struggling please know, thanks to our incredible volunteers, our Helpline will be available, 24/7 every day (including all holidays) for calls and texts at (877) 870-4673.