Wednesday, August 21, 2013

No Good Samaritans in Massachusetts

"Framingham Samaritans lament closed office, layoffs" by Lisa Kocian |  Globe Staff, June 12, 2013

FRAMINGHAM — Last week the doors there were shut as Samaritans Inc. abruptly announced it would consolidate all operations in Boston and lay off five employees, four of whom were based in Framingham.

To officials at Samaritans, eliminating the brick-and-mortar presence makes financial sense in a tough economy. But to many of the 100 volunteers and the staff who oversaw them, the sudden move is an affront to the spirit of a group rooted in support and friendship.

“It’s sort of what you do with criminals,” said Peter H. Robinson, a 61-year-old Framingham resident who is a former Samaritans board member....

About 60 volunteers gathered at a Framingham restaurant Tuesday night to hug and vent and grieve....

Alan Quarello, who was executive director of Samaritans of Framingham before its absorption by the Boston group, wrote a scathing letter accusing Roberta Hurtig, executive director of Samaritans Inc., of bad management and sent it Monday to Governor Deval Patrick, state Senator Karen Spilka of Ashland, and state Representative Chris Walsh of Framingham. None could be reached for comment Tuesday.

Quarello wrote that operating costs were low relative to the call volume, and he asked that the Legislature review the matter.

“Funding that should have gone to continue services in MetroWest was used instead by Boston to rent expensive office space and new furniture and hire additional staff,” he wrote....

For the unhappy volunteers, the real sting comes from the loss of friendship and community, a tight bond formed over many hours of taking harrowing phone calls....

Robinson said “Some of these calls were pretty tough. Talking to someone who’s in such pain they want to end their life is not an easy thing to do.”

Did you report them to DHS as a potential security risk?