EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 24, 2012

Program's success sustained by grateful victims who were healed by program

Gift of Caring Awards presented by TIP

ANDOVER — Even in the midst of tragedy, grieving survivors who have lost a loved one don’t forget acts of kindness or comforting words from those who try to help them.

Volunteers — the core of the caregiving for the Trauma Intervention Program of the Merrimack Valley — often cite the emotional first aid they got during a personal tragedy as a reason why they joined TIP, according to the group’s executive director and co-founder Dr. Jayan M. Landry.

Several recipients of this year’s Gift of Caring Awards presented at TIP’s 20th Annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet held at the Wyndham Boston Andover hotel last week cited TIP’s help in their time of personal trauma as the reason why they volunteer.

Some survivors support the program in other ways, like Joe and Joy Santoro. Their daughter Kristen was one of “the Methuen Angels” — a group of four young women from the area — who lost their lives while on a trip to the University of Massachusetts in Amherst on Oct. 3, 1998. Vicky L’Italien and Deidre Ann DiDio, of Methuen, and Elana Matczak of Windham, N.H., also died in the crash.

Metheun police called TIP and requested three volunteers to organize at the station along with other officers, state police and clergy to make the death notifications. The volunteers also offered ongoing support to the grieving families after receiving the tragic news.

“The Santoro family are indeed role models for healing grief,” Landry said.

“Their efforts in establishing the Kristen Joy Santoro Memorial Scholorship fund to give back to the community is one way they chose to honor their daughter. They are heroes in their own rite,” Landry said.

Landry noted the couple has been donating $1,000 a year from the fund for several years. Their support earned them a “Gift of Caring Award.”

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