Local Providers to Join Together, Increase Service-delivery Options

SPRINGFIELD — The boards of directors of two area nonprofit organizations, Friends of the Homeless Inc. (FOH) and Clinical & Support Options Inc. (CSO), have voted to pursue a merger.

FOH provides emergency shelter, housing, and support services for low-income residents of Springfield. CSO is a comprehensive behavioral-health organization based in Northampton, providing outpatient and emergency mental-health and substance-abuse services, with regional locations in five counties in Western and Central Mass. FOH will merge into CSO and become a program of Clinical & Support Options.

“This is a merger that is built on mutual, compatible strengths,” said Bill Miller, executive director of FOH. “Friends’ operations will remain largely the same, now with new opportunities for our clients to have ready access to behavioral-health services. We will also have new opportunities to serve the housing needs of communities in Franklin and Hampshire Counties.”

Karin Jeffers, president and CEO of Clinical & Support Options, noted that, in parallel fashion, CSO clients will have access to FOH housing expertise, while CSO expands its behavioral-health services to FOH clients in Springfield. “The leaders of both organizations have been excited to recognize how bringing the two together will benefit our clients and staff. Our communities will benefit from the more efficient use of public resources and broadened access to the resources and services both organizations bring.”

Added Keith Obert, chairman of the CSO board of directors, “the senior management of the two organizations will be combined into one stronger team, with more diverse skills. Also, the two boards will collaborate to create broader and deeper community representation across the region.”

Dan Pouliot, chairman of the FOH board of directors, noted that “FOH has a strong brand recognition throughout the area for critical programming to serve the most vulnerable in our communities. This merger will allow us to keep doing that work, but now with additional resources to expand programming to our clients and support our staff, all of whom are vital to what we do. There will be no reduction in workforce. Rather, we expect that we will be stronger and more efficient together.”

A merger of Massachusetts nonprofit agencies requires filing with the attorney general. Miller said they expect to submit required documents in the coming weeks, with the intent of completing the process before the end of the calendar year.