When I start to gather my thoughts for a monthly blog, I am typically able to put words to my feelings and ideas. This month is different. It has been hard to find the right words, figure out the order that makes sense, and to settle into what I want to communicate. There is so much, and it seems nearly impossible to balance the desire to celebrate our LGBTQ+ community, acknowledge the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, and respond to the recent issues of race, violence, and protests. I am a middle-aged white woman, and I am also a nonprofit leader, a parent, and a caring and compassionate community member, so I bring my thoughts and experiences to what I write through this collective lens that is mine. I am now and always working to open and bring clarity to that lens as much as possible.

It is PRIDE month – an opportunity for us to celebrate, honor, and support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. This year we are not able to participate in PRIDE parades and events that bring people together to show and share our support and that, along with the other missed events and celebrations, feels bad, sad, and frustrating. But – it does not silence our voices or our ability to demonstrate our respect and appreciation. There is so much to celebrate, including the Supreme Court ruling this week protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ people. Join me in sharing your PRIDE for our friends, families, and selves for whom this month, and every day, holds much to celebrate.

I am finding that one of the hardest things for me to deal with during this pandemic is the uncertainty. We were uncertain of how long this would last, and we still are. Uncertain of when it would be okay to go back to work or school, to travel, to hold events or celebrations, to honor loved ones lost. Even as things begin to open up, it’s uncertain what it really means and what comes next. This stress can be really hard on most of us, and extremely difficult for some. It comforts me to know that people who are struggling continue to find the support they need by calling or texting our Helpline, 24/7.

For me personally, the issue of systemic racism is neither a new understanding nor an area of expertise. I have listened and learned, through my lens, along the way but I have been deeply moved and inspired by everything I have experienced in the last 3 weeks. It has not felt good to recognize the ways I have contributed, however unintentional, or where I could have stood up for more but did not. That feeling of discomfort and uncertainty is where I feel I need to be, and where I think many of us may be. It is from this place that I can confirm my commitment to do better, do more, learn, and act. As an individual and as a leader, I pledge to do my part.

You can read more about Samaritans’ Statement on Racial Equity and Justice and our commitment here. If you have questions or thoughts to share on these topics, I encourage you to reach out to me directly at kmarchi@samaritanshope.org. In the coming days, we gently remind you to take care of your wellbeing by seeking support from a place you trust, including our Helpline, available by call or text 24/7 at 877-870-4673.

My best,

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Kathleen C. Marchi
Executive Director