Samaritans, Inc.

You are not alone

aka Samaritans   |   Boston, MA   |  http://www.samaritanshope.org

Mission

Samaritans' mission is to reduce the incidence of suicide by alleviating despair, isolation, distress and suicidal feelings among individuals in our community, 24 hours a day; to educate the public about suicide prevention; and to reduce the stigma associated with suicide. We accomplish this through services that emphasize confidential, nonjudgmental, and compassionate listening.

Ruling year info

1978

Executive Director & President

Ms. Kathleen Marchi

Main address

41 West Street 4th Floor

Boston, MA 02111 USA

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Formerly known as

Samaritans of Boston

Samaritans Suburban West

EIN

04-2643466

NTEE code info

Human Service Organizations (P20)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Suicide rates across the country have risen dramatically since 1999, including in MA, according to the most recent report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In 2019, over 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide. In MA, suicide is the 12th leading cause of death; tragically, every 14 hours someone in the state dies by suicide. Data from 2018—the most recent reporting available—indicates 725 persons in MA died by suicide that year. This represents a 23.4% increase from the number of suicides just 10 years prior. The circumstances leading to suicide are varied. A significant number of those who have attempted suicide and those who have died by suicide have a background of trauma, which may influence or be influenced by having a current mental health challenge, a history of alcohol, opioid and/or other substance abuse, an intimate partner problem, or a history of non-fatal, self-inflicted injuries.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

24/7 Crisis Services

Our signature practice of befriending those who call or text our statewide, toll-free Helpline ensures a caring listener is available to anyone with suicidal ideation or intent to self-injure. Building awareness of suicide risk, through tailored community workshops, along with peer support for those dealing with a suicide loss, fill important niches in preventing deaths from suicide and healing from its aftermath.

Samaritans’ reach is statewide, with highest delivery of service occurring in Greater Boston and on calls from any MA area code to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL). Volunteers are vital to meeting the demand for our services. Annually, more than 320 volunteers (adults and youth) answer calls on the crisis Helpline and through the NSPL. Those texting our 1-800 number receive the same befriending attention. We are one of the busiest suicide crisis centers in the nation, and among the three other Samaritans branches in MA. Moreover, we are the only Samaritans in MA taking overnight calls, and the only center in New England providing 24/7 coverage for texting on the statewide number. Our services are free to all who contact us. Every year our programs impact more than 28,000 people of all ages.

Research shows crisis phone helplines—and increasingly text services—are effective in
preventing deaths by suicide and users report significant reduction in psychological pain,
hopelessness, and anxiety. Indeed, other research confirms, “evidence to date indicates that
professionals may be less effective in providing telephone help to suicidal individuals when
compared to trained lay volunteers” (Mishara Oct, 2016 – AAS: Suicide and Life
Threatening Behavior).

Population(s) Served
Adults
Adolescents

Our Community and Education Program (CEO) Program provides customized suicide prevention workshops reaching over 19,700 individuals in schools, professional and civic groups, and religious and social organizations. We target our education and outreach efforts to those groups that are at high risk for suicide including teens, older adults, and middle aged men. Participants learn important information about suicide prevention including risk factors and warning signs; building resiliency/protective factors; and how to support someone at risk. The basic concept and skills of befriending are also discussed. Samaritans is continuing a partnership with the City of Boston and Peer Health Exchange to further prevention efforts across several city programs, and notably, in the Boston Public Schools.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Adults

Those who have lost a loved one to suicide, called loss survivors, are themselves at an increased risk of suicide. GSS provides support to loss survivors through six SafePlace peer support groups (in Boston, Framingham, Medford, Needham, Quincy, and Worcester), and through the Survivor-to-Survivor Network for at-home visits. After a suicide occurs in a community, Samaritans are often called upon to provide support and consultation as these communities struggle to cope with the impact of suicide. GSS is also working in collaboration with several community partners to host a presentation series geared towards people who are grieving a loss to suicide, as well as those who care for them, with the goal to help participants better understand suicide and the grief that may happen when a suicide occurs.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Awards

Crisis Center Certification, since 2005 2005

Contact USA

Member 2000

American Association of Suicidology

Member Crisis Center 2005

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Affiliations & memberships

United Way Member Agency 1980

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of students receiving information on suicide

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, Adolescents

Related Program

Community Education and Outreach (CEO)

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This includes youth receiving suicide prevention training at their schools and colleges, as well as at community awareness events.

Number of adults receiving information on suicide

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Seniors

Related Program

Community Education and Outreach (CEO)

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Adults receiving suicide prevention training

Number of crisis calls answered

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

24/7 Crisis Services

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

We have seen a sizeable increase in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Number of crisis texts answered

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

24/7 Crisis Services

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of volunteers active in Crisis Services

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

24/7 Crisis Services

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Includes both adults and youth "Samariteen" volunteers serving on our crisis Helplines.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our mission is to reduce the incidence of suicide by alleviating despair, isolation, distress and suicidal feelings among individuals in our community, 24 hours a day; to educate the public about suicide prevention; to help those who have lost a loved one to suicide; and to reduce the stigma associated with suicide. Our services emphasize confidential, nonjudgmental, and compassionate listening. Along with these goals, we look to reach new groups within Massachusetts.
The goals and outcomes for our 24/7 Helpline, our suicide prevention workshops, our growing grief support services, and our efforts to increase the accessibility of our programs include to:
• Provide compassionate, nonjudgmental listening to all 24/ Helpline visitors, 365 days of the year, and maintain overall Helpline shift coverage at 99+%
• Increase the number of active volunteers who will collectively contribute approximately 30,000 volunteer hours annually
• Increase the number of calls and texts answered on the 24/7 Helpline from 80,425 texts in 2020
• Increase the number of suicide prevention workshops from nearly 500 in 2020, which reached more than 18,000 people
• Continue to engage with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) on a national level with the “National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act” and implementation of 988
• Launch a support group for survivors of suicide attempts, focusing on a unique group of individuals who have attempt suicide (Pilot group began in April 2021)
• Provide translation services for our 24/7 Helpline, now available in over 240 languages for callers and to our statewide toll-free number
• Ensure our website continues to be fully ADA-accessible and compliant

We achieve our mission by applying a befriending concept through three programs: 24/7 Helpline (intervention); Community Education and Outreach (prevention); and Grief Support Services (postvention). Befriending—listening to what a person in crisis is feeling without expressing judgment—is our signature practice, offering those in crisis an opportunity to pause, shift perspective, and deescalate the urge to act on their suicidal ideation. Our services are free to all who reach out to us.
Intervention (24/7 Helpline): Our intervention approach entails training and mentoring befriending volunteers to provide compassionate, confidential listening on our 24/7 Helpline to those who are isolated, despairing, and suicidal. We manage the statewide toll-free Helpline and answer crisis calls unattended to by other Massachusetts-based agencies when they are not open. Our 24/7 Helpline provides an important lifeline to people in crisis. Samaritans is a supplement to the services that are available to “at risk" populations, and as a complement to those services that have a more specific function (mental health and health care providers, and case managers).
Prevention (Community Education and Outreach): Our prevention work centers on building awareness of the warning signs of suicide and how to engage with someone at risk in order to lessen their suicidal ideation. We present these prevention workshops to schools, colleges, professional groups, civic, religious and social organizations, with a targeted effort to groups that are often at high risk for suicide, such as teens and older adults. We equip others with the skills and knowledge they need to identify and help people at risk of suicide.
Postvention (Grief Support Services): When someone is lost to suicide, the effect can be devastating to families and communities. Samaritans' postvention work provides grief support for survivors who have lost a loved one to suicide, and who are often at an increased risk of suicide themselves. We offer one-on-one and group support to individuals and families who may be struggling, as well as consultation, information and support services to communities where a loss has occurred.

We have a deeply committed, 25-member volunteer Board, who give generously of their time, talent, and treasure. Indeed, for the latter, 100% of board members made a personal unrestricted gift within the last year.

Additionally, we have stable leadership and program staff, which underscores the organization's ability to implement and meet its goals of reducing and preventing suicide.

Provide a list/description of the organization's major achievements.
Established in 1974 as the first independent Samaritans’ branch in the U.S., Samaritans signature practice of befriending has had a tremendous impact on lessening suicide in MA for close to 45 years. Those who call or text our Toll-Free Helpline encounter a caring listener, ready with a compassionate ear to anyone with suicidal ideation or intent to self-injure. Our education efforts to build awareness of suicide risk, through tailored community workshops, along with peer support for those dealing with a suicide loss, fulfill important niches in preventing deaths from suicide or healing from its aftermath. Samaritans’ reach is statewide in MA, with highest concentration of service delivery in Greater Boston and MetroWest. Samaritans answers calls from any MA area codes that go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL).

Samaritans evolved from one small Helpline to having answered over 2.6 million calls, chats and text messages. We have trained more than 5,250 volunteers in befriending skills; provided suicide prevention workshops to 135,000 individuals; and lent aid and support to 13,000 individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide.

During this time, Samaritans has grown from a basement office in Boston’s Arlington Street Church to our current office in Downtown Boston. In an effort to reach more individuals, we have added to the Helpline texting that has grown tremendously in popularity. Samaritans is the only MA-based organization to implement texting for those seeking help for issues related to suicide. Youth are the largest users of the text service: we answered 7,500 texts last year and anticipate this increasing to more than 9,600 texts answered by June 2020.

Longer-term, our (2016) published 5-year visioning plan (see in full at www.samaritanshope.org) will lead us towards progress in several key areas: 1. Serve More People In Need; 2. Increase Our Capacity; 3. Leverage Our Impact Through Coalitions And Collaborations; and 4. Build A Strong Financial Foundation To Support Strategic Growth.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Our mission is to reduce the incidence of suicide by alleviating despair, isolation, distress and suicidal feelings among individuals in our community, 24 hours a day; to educate the public about suicide prevention; to help those who have lost a loved one to suicide; and to reduce the stigma associated with suicide. Our services emphasize confidential, nonjudgmental, and compassionate listening.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    SMS text surveys, Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    The Community Education & Outreach team collects feedback after each workshop through an anonymous survey. Based on this feedback and conversations during the workshops, the CEO team saw the need for a conversation guide to help support participants use the skills they had acquired. Working with Samaritans Communications Manager, a useful one page hand out was created to share during workshops and is now one of the most request flyers.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board, Our funders,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently,

Financials

Samaritans, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Samaritans, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 5/20/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Mark Horgan

Vin Capozzi

AllWays Partners

Terrie Perella

Social Venture Partners

Tom Burke

Retired

Joe Shapiro

Rum & Reggae Travel Guidebooks, Inc.

Lisa Sarno

Sierra Tucson and Acadia Health

Mark Horgan

Retired

Peter Bean

Hunneman

Mary McDonagh

Deloitte

Samantha Joseph

CIC Health

Nicole Costa Moustafa

Avast

Kathy Ruggiero

PatientKeeper

Kacy Maitland

MA Department of Mental Health

Debbie Connolly

Community Volunteer

Stacey Marino

Oppenheimer & Co. Inc

Larry Buchsbaum

Marketing Professional

Kevin Smithson

PwC

Jill Borrelli

Tufts Health Plan

Leah Goldstein

Jewish Teen Foundation of Greater Boston

Emma Feldman

The Bridge Program at Weston High School

Kennedy Elsey

Mix 104.1

Susie Korb

Toast

Dave Majenski

Abington Police Dept

Ann Oliver

Plymouth Bay Orthopedic Associates, Partners in Health

Doug Murphy

Launchpad Venture Group

Bruce Herzfelder

BetterVet, LLC

Stephen Mosha

PwC

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 5/20/2021,

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 11/12/2019

Policies and practices developed in partnership with Equity in the Center, a project that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems within the social sector to increase racial equity. Learn more

Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.