I come from a family of volunteers where giving back was not just expected, it was viewed as an opportunity. Along with some innate traits and interests, I believe it’s what led me to a rewarding career in the nonprofit sector, with stops in for-profit work along the way. At the heart of why Samaritans means so much to me is that I believe that everyone has a right to feel safe, to know they belong, and to be recognized and respected.
Samaritans is most well-known for our 24/7 phone and text line, for good reason. Nearly 75,000 calls, texts, and chats were answered in 2019! It’s this, the work that staff and volunteers put in, that is so impressive. On top of that, there are others who facilitate grief support services and others who travel all around the region to deliver youth and adult workshops on suicide prevention. The work we do makes a difference in people’s lives and the lives they touch, every single day.
I first learned about Samaritans in 2013 when the community I was working in and living in was rocked by three suicide deaths of teenagers within a few months of each other. It’s a devastating time in a community. I will always be grateful to the organizations, families, friends, and neighbors who came together to offer support and guidance. We did a lot of great work to dispel myths about suicide, help people understand how to ask someone if they are suicidal, talk openly about mental health issues, and help someone who is in crisis. SafePlace, the Samaritans support groups, were offered free of charge, as always, to anyone who wanted to attend. I can tell you first hand that it helped. It all helped.
Samaritans will continue to answer the calls and texts, and offer the workshops and support groups all for free to anyone who needs them. And then we’ll continue to seek more places for workshops and support groups to take place. We will eagerly continue promoting our helpline so more people who need us know that we’re here and that they are not alone.
To say that I feel connected and that Samaritans is moving and fulfilling work for me is an understatement.
Kathleen C. Marchi