“How’s your new job going?”
I’ve been asked this a lot over the last six weeks. In summary, it’s been amazing! Our mission truly matters to individuals, families, and our community. To befriend people who need us and help save lives — it’s work that I can see the impact of every single day. I am thrilled to be part of Samaritans.
The people are incredible, and I am very grateful for the warm welcome they have given me. They are a powerful group of dedicated and caring volunteers, hard-working and committed staff, engaged and generous board members, and interested and supportive donors throughout the Commonwealth.
The transition with former Executive Director Steve Mongeau has been smooth and he remains a tremendous resource to us all. We had several productive and fun weeks together that have left me feeling confident, curious, and optimistic for the future.
I have observed both our youth and gatekeeper workshops. It is incredible to watch the growth of participants as myths are dispelled, and tools and tips are shared. In SafePlace meetings, I was deeply moved by the generosity of attendees and facilitators who, even in their own grief, are giving encouragement, guidance, and comfort to others.
Unfortunately, my first month was also marked by a tragic suicide on Christmas Day in Boston. The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, the Attorney General, Boston Public Health Commission, various law enforcement agencies, and members of the media reached to us as a recognized resource, listing our Helpline number (1-877-270-4673). I am grateful for their acknowledgement, and hope that those who were impacted by the news reached out to us.
I will soon be participating in our Befriender Training so that I can have a deeper understanding of the process on our 24/7 Helpline. This training, which all of our Helpline volunteers participate in, is 26 hours of in-class instruction which prepares each volunteer to answers calls and texts. I look forward to deepening the knowledge and active listening skills I have brought with me from prior training and work experience.
Samaritans is a strong and stable organization but there is always more we can do to: help de-stigmatize mental health issues, particularly around suicide; teach more people how to help someone by asking questions and offering support; provide comfort to those who are grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide; and to answer calls and texts 24/7, 365 days a year.
In the coming weeks, I will continue to meet with and learn from our staff, volunteers, board members, and partners, to think critically and to maintain an open mind to help expand the work of Samaritans and ensure that the resources are in place to do so. Please do not hesitate to reach out with your thoughts, I’d love to hear from you and hope to meet you in person too!
Happy New Year to you! May all you hope for in 2020 be realized.
Kathleen C. Marchi