At the end of August, I will retire and begin the next chapter in life. The past fourteen years at Samaritans has been a time of growth and change. I have seen the organization go from 60 or so volunteers in any given month to over 150. The staff of 7 has now grown to 25. Fourteen years ago, there were no desktop computers in the phone room – only paper and pencil. We successfully launched our own text program.
None of those changes have been as dramatic as the changes that took place in March of 2020 when a global pandemic hit, and we went virtual. Despite the challenges, there have been unbelievable silver linings. We have volunteers not only around the country but around the world. Our community education programs are taking place not just in-state but out-of-state as well. Attendance at SafePlace groups has skyrocketed as people can participate via Zoom.
What hasn’t changed is the spirit of Samaritans. For nearly fifty years, Samaritans has been the refuge for those who are despairing, lonely, and hopeless. It is where people can be heard and not judged, where a community can gather to care for one another and where messages of hope are found. I am humbled to have been a part of that spirit and grateful to the people who dedicated themselves to keep the spirit of Samaritans alive.
The next chapter is a work in progress. In some capacity, I have worked since the age of fourteen, whether that was scooping ice cream at Throckmorton’s, making caramel corn at the mall, giving baths and making beds as a nursing assistant at Riverside Hospital in Columbus, OH, or starting my social work career at that same hospital.
My career took me to Baptist Hospital in Miami where I met an elderly woman with numbers tattooed on the inside of her right arm. She was a survivor of the Holocaust and to this day that memory of her is a testimony to both the worst of humankind and the resiliency of humankind. I spent many years working for an Employee Assistance Program managing the contract they had with the Department of Defense supporting active duty, guard, and reserve service members and their families.
I do know one piece of the next chapter, and that is taking on the most important role at Samaritans. My plan is to volunteer for one shift a week and give back to the organization that means so much to me.
I look forward to what retirement may be like and exploring how the next chapter will unfold. In addition to volunteering at Samaritans, I would love to volunteer some time at the Animal Rescue League of Boston and maybe learn Spanish. The stack of books on my nightstand has grown into two stacks, and in September, when we take a cruise to Alaska, another box on the “I’ve always wanted to do that” list gets ticked.
Wishing everyone the very best!