Headquarters Counseling Center has been an important part of Lawrence’s social service scene for more than four decades.
Marcia Epstein had served as the agency’s executive director for the last 34 years and last week’s news of her departure from Headquarters doesn’t diminish the important role she played in the community, especially in the area of suicide prevention.
Headquarters is a homegrown agency that was founded and continued to evolve to meet unique local needs. It was established by a couple of Kansas University students in 1969 to serve as a place people could call and, without giving their names, obtain guidance on just about any topic. In 1969, some of those calls were related to drug abuse, but no topic was off limits, and people knew they could safely ask questions and get answers at Headquarters.
Over the years, the agency has continued to be available 24-7 to answer questions and provide guidance. In recent years, a major focus has been suicide prevention and programs for those who have lost someone to suicide.
Unfortunately, Headquarters funding from various sources has dropped by about 50 percent since 2011. The agency has temporarily reduced its hours of operation, and its volunteer board is considering various options including a possible merger with another local agency.
The news that Headquarters was in need of what the board president called “a complete overhaul and evaluation of our operations” coincided with the announcement of Epstein’s departure. An impasse between Epstein and the board apparently had developed over setting a course for Headquarters’ future
That’s unfortunate, but it shouldn’t diminish the agency’s accomplishments under Epstein’s leadership or her 34 years of dedicated service. She and the people she has trained have touched thousands of lives in Lawrence.
The volunteer members of the Headquarters board now are faced with setting a sustainable course for an agency that provides important services in Lawrence, and we wish them well in that endeavor. The need for suicide prevention and the other counseling provided by Headquarters has not gone away, and the loss of those services would have a significant impact on Lawrence.