Freeport's Sachs to lead Portland-based sexual assault response agency

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FREEPORT — Melanie Sachs is resigning as executive director of Freeport Community Services to lead Portland-based Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine.

Sachs, who is also the Town Council chairwoman, announced Aug. 25 that she has accepted the position of interim executive director at SARSSM. Her last day at FCS will be Sept. 6.

Although the SARSSM job is being called an interim position, Sachs said it isn’t likely to be a temporary role. The organization’s former executive director, Amy Stanley, resigned earlier this summer.

“It’s a good time to assess what they need and see if it’s a good fit for both of us,” Sachs said. “I’m very happy to help them through this transition period.”

SARSSM works with victims and survivors of sexual assault in Cumberland and York counties through a 24-hour crisis and support line, support groups, and response team. It was founded in 1973 and was formerly called the Rape Crisis Center. The organization, Sachs said, is in the midst of an “organizational reassessment.”

Sachs, who is a licensed clinical social worker and has a master’s degree in science and social administration from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said she is looking forward to the change.

“My new position with SARSSM reflects a return to my clinical social work roots in victim advocacy and crisis services, at a time of exciting and critical growth for the organization,” she said. “I am truly looking forward to this new chapter.”

Sachs said her experience in working with victims of violence and trauma will lend itself to her new position.

“Throughout my career, whether in home care or hospice, in inner-city hospitals, or here at FCS, I’ve worked with victims of violence,” she said.

Sachs has been executive director at FCS for three years. She said the organization is unique in the variety of programs and services it provides.

“It’s a place where people can get help or give back,” she said.

The organization has grown a lot over the past few years, and Sachs said it’s because of the staff and community members who have worked together to move FCS forward.

“FCS has seen tremendous growth over the past few years, thanks to a strong team and wonderful community support, and I am deeply honored to have been part of that work,” she said.

Catherine Richards, FCS president, said Sachs has made the organization more effective by implementing a range of policies and procedures, by stabilizing its financial reporting, revitalizing its programs, and finding new approaches for managing staff and volunteers.

“Melanie’s boundless energy, her organizational and administrative skills, and her absolute passion for the mission of FCS have been hallmark traits of her time at FCS,” Richards said. “She has strengthened nearly every aspect of the organization and set it on a course for a strong future.”

FCS began advertising for Sachs’ replacement on Monday. Applications are being accepted until Sept. 26.

Sachs said she’ll miss working at FCS, but knows the organization is in good hands.

“The transition should be smooth because there’s such a strong team here,” she said. “(FCS) is strong and stable and it’s at a good place where I feel comfortable leaving.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.