In 1974, the first American branch of Samaritans was founded in the basement of Arlington Street Church. Monica Dickens, a descendant of Charles Dickens, saw the impact that Samaritans had in the UK and wanted to bring that concept to Boston. With 22 volunteers, rotary phones, and an open door, the Samaritans of Boston offered people a place where they could share their struggles without judgement.
50 years later, I am proud to say that is still true. In the last half century, Samaritans has trained more than 6,500 volunteers to answer more than 3 million calls, texts, and chats – helping people find hope through nonjudgmental listening.
Over the years, we’ve expanded to provide so much more than crisis support, because we know that humanity thrives when we work together to nurture mental health at all points. Since our founding, we have supported 17,000 suicide loss survivors in their grief journeys. And we have taught more than 180,000 people how to support their own mental health and be a lifeline for others through our educational workshops.
This year, as we celebrate our 50th anniversary, we are highlighting the power of Finding Hope in Human Connection.
Samaritans has always been a place for people to connect with one another. Over the years, we’ve found different ways to do that – through a phone call or a text, support groups, community events. But no matter how it happens, the core of our work has been the same. Helping people support one another through compassion and nonjudgmental listening.
When you reach out to help someone who is struggling, when you show that you care, when you give someone the space to share what they are going through, they can find hope.
As we celebrate 50 years of finding hope through human connection, I hope you will get involved with our work. Be a HopeRaiser to raise funds and awareness for suicide prevention. Bring Samaritans to you with a free workshop for your school or workplace. Join our community events to meet others who are passionate about this work.
However you choose to get involved, thank you. Thank you for helping us grow over the last 50 years, and for joining us as we look forward to the next 50 years.