Mental Health Care Disparities Persist for Minorities in the US

A 1999 report by the Surgeon General report stated that despite the existence of effective treatments, “disparities lie in the availability, accessibility, and quality of mental health services for racial and ethnic minorities.”

Unfortunately, its findings still hold true nearly two decades later. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, minorities still have less access to mental health services than whites.

Despite advances in health equity, including the expansion of mental health coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act, disparities in mental health care persist. Why are minorities still not getting proper mental health care? There are a number of reasons. Here are few:

  • A lack of availability of services
  • Transportation limitations
  • Difficulty finding childcare/taking time off work
  • Racism in treatment settings
  • Language barriers and not enough bilingual providers
  • Stigma

According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), there is an especially high level of mental health stigma among minority populations. Surveys and studies have shown that Hispanics and minorities in general experience higher levels of self-stigma—internalizing negative societal beliefs about mental illness—and are more likely to conceal a mental health problem from coworkers, friends, or classmates than whites.

Indeed, in 2018, NAMI is promoting the theme of “CureStigma” throughout its awareness events, especially during Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in July. National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was established by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008.

The belief among some in the minority populations that mental health treatment “doesn’t work” also plays a role in avoiding or delaying treatment, as does a lack of adequate health insurance. Poverty also affects mental health status: Hispanics living below the poverty level, as compared to Hispanics above the poverty level, are over twice as likely to have psychological distress—and low income populations have less access to health care.

Also factoring into the disparities is a mental health system weighted heavily toward non-minority values and culture norms, as well as language barriers. That problem in particular was the impetus for the founding of the Gándara Center in 1977, when no other agency in the area specifically met the needs of providing culturally sensitive care to the Hispanic community. Today, the Gándara Center specializes in Hispanic services, but also delivers services to African-Americans and other diverse populations.

Disparities in Care for Minority Youth and Children

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), over 70 percent of African-American adolescents with a major depressive episode did not receive treatment for their condition, and the percentage of African-American and Hispanic youth who use mental health services is less than half than that of white children (4-5 percent and 10 percent, respectively).

Korie Johnson, director of education support services for the Gándara Youth Development Center in Holyoke, said that when parents have unaddressed mental health concerns, that in turn leads to challenges with their children because many of them are unaware that their kids and teenagers need treatment. “When parents suffer from depression, for example, many of them aren’t doing what they need to do for their children,” she said.

The Youth Development Center offers at-risk youth in Gándara programs and in the community a place to access educational and vocational training support, as well as art enrichment programs. Johnson said many of the youth that come to the center have ADHD and suffer from trauma. “Most of the youth we work with have trauma issues because of domestic violence in their backgrounds,” said Johnson. “I think that plays a big role in how they interact with their peers, how they interact with their teachers—with everyone.” Many minority children also experience “compounded community trauma”—the experience of children when they witness violence both in their homes and in their neighborhoods. Compounded community trauma has been linked to high rates of mental illness, including PTSD, depression, and externalizing behaviors such as physical aggression and destruction of property.

The light at the end of the tunnel, said Johnson, is community health organizations such as the Gándara Center are narrowing the disparities that hinder the most vulnerable populations’ access to mental health care.

“I think Gándara as a whole has been really stepping in and getting those who are in need the proper services,” said Johnson. “More and more people in the community know they have a place to go and not be looked at in a negative way.”

The LGBTQI+ Community and Mental Health

According to NAMI, LGBTQ individuals are almost three times likely than heterosexuals to suffer from a variety of different mental health conditions, such as major depression or generalized anxiety disorder, and are two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with a substance use disorder.

There is also a common denominator regarding the mental health treatment disparities of the LGBTQI+ community and those of racial and ethnic minorities and other marginalized groups (such as the homeless and those with limited mobility): they all endure discrimination, which creates stress responses and traumatic experiences.

While great strides have been made in terms of society’s treatment of LGBTQI+ individuals, ostracization and stigma still affect this population’s access to mental health care.

Past, Present, and Future

In 1985, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released the Report of the Secretary’s Task force on Black and Minority Health. Also known as the Heckler Report, it called the extent of the health disparities, including mental health, “an affront to our ideals and to the ongoing genius of American medicine.” In the decades since this landmark report, much has improved, but health and health care disparities have persisted.

DHHS enacted its Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities in 2011, providing a comprehensive framework for federal agencies to align efforts and promote policies and programs to reduce racial and ethnic health inequality. Its implementation progress report, released in 2015, detailed important work that had been accomplished, including SAMHSA incorporating health disparity impact statements into all new Requests for Applications for grant programs.

In addition, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is still the law of the land, requires group and individual health plans to provide benefits for mental health and substance use disorders equivalent to those provided for physical health conditions. The ACA also created offices of minority health in six agencies within the DHHS. Despite the Trump administration’s efforts to curtail the ACA, the fundamental elements of the act remain in place.

Today, and into the future, what can the average person do to help ensure better mental health treatment in marginalized communities? NAMI’s CureStigma theme stresses the fact that taking on the challenges of access to care requires all of us, and fighting stigma one of the keys. “Stigma is 100 percent curable,” reads NAMI’s Minority Mental Health Awareness Month web page. “Compassion, empathy, and understanding are the antidote. Your voice can spread the cure.”

Korie Johnson 1

Korie Johnson, director of education support services for the Gándara Youth Development Center in Holyoke

By |July 26th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Mental Health Care Disparities Persist for Minorities in the US

Gándara in the News: Debra Flynn-Gonzalez, Program Director for Hope for Holyoke

On Wednesday, Western Mass News turned to Debra Flynn-Gonzalez, Gándara Center’s Hope for Holyoke Program Director, for expert insight on how stories like celebrity Demi Lovato’s reported overdose hit close to home.

Lovato, who had been sober for six years, relapsed on Tuesday and overdosed. She was treated with the overdose prevention drug  Narcan before being transported to a hospital. Her condition is stable.

“We’re very familiar with her story,” Flynn-Gonzalez said. “As a recovery community we know that relapse is often part of the process of recovery. It’s not a requirement, we know that too.”

Flynn-Gonzalez leads Gándara Center’s Hope for Holyoke, a peer-to-peer support program where the idea of community is vital to pursuing recovery. Substance users often carry feelings of isolation and hopelessness, which can sometimes lead to relapse and overdose. Hope for Holyoke provides a communal environment where users and individuals in recovery can talk with people with similar experiences, who understand the hardships and stigmas that accompany substance use.

“The support from other people and peers,” added Flynn-Gonzalez. “I hope that she and anyone has that in her life so you can talk to people who were in your shoes.”

The Springfield Metropolitan Statistical Area (Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties combined) had 148 confirmed fatal overdoses in 2017. Between 2000-2017, the area had 1,390 fatal overdoses.

You can read the Western Mass News article and watch the video segment online here.

Hope for Holyoke

Hope for Holyoke offers free, no-insurance-needed services including relapse prevention and tobacco cessation support groups, social events, access to computers for job readiness/job search activities, and advocacy and recovery coaching. Support also includes peer governance where participants form advisory boards and use community meetings to create policies such as Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct, and determine program activities such as peer support groups and participation in health fairs, community events and celebrations/holidays.

All paths to recovery are accepted. Participants must be 18 years of age or older. Parents may bring adolescents or children to the center if they follow the center’s policy related to supervision and attendance. Members who come under the influence of substances or alcohol are given a choice to go for treatment or they will be asked to leave and come back when they are not under the influence.

100 Suffolk Street
Holyoke, MA 01040
Contact: (413) 561-1020
Monday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Tuesday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Wednesday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Open, Self
No costs, no insurance needed.
By |July 26th, 2018|Events, Gandara in the News, News|Comments Off on Gándara in the News: Debra Flynn-Gonzalez, Program Director for Hope for Holyoke

What Demi Lovato Can Teach Us About Recognizing Warning Signs of Relapse

In June, singer-songwriter Demi Lovato did what she does best: she delivered a powerful, emotionally-charged performance, in Lisbon, Portugal, where she sang a rendition of her song “Sober.” The lyrics are an apologetic admission of a relapse; Lovato, who for years has battled substance use in addition to depression and bipolar disorder, was at the time six-years sober. On Tuesday, July 24, one month after she posted a clip of her singing “Sober,” she was treated for an “apparent overdose” which has yet to be confirmed.

Lovato was reportedly administered the overdose prevention drug Narcan before being hospitalized. She is now in stable condition.

There are many lessons to be taken from Lovato’s experience which we can apply to our own lives and the lives of those around us. Cries for help and warning signs of relapse can sometimes be difficult to detect. But knowing what to look for could ultimately save someone’s life.

Warning Signs

According to TMZ, Lovato’s friends saw distressing changes in her that made them think she might be on the brink of renewing her substance use. “They say the signs became more alarming as the days passed, and one friend says he knew for weeks she was in the danger zone … when he saw her this week it was apparent she was in trouble.”

In addition, TMZ reports she had a falling out with her sober coach.

These and the following behaviors are indicative of a potential relapse:

Change in Attitudes, Thoughts, Feelings and Actions

According to a study supported by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism grants, negative emotional states like anxiety, depression, frustration, and boredom, referred to as intrapersonal high-risk situations, are associated with the highest rate of relapse. “These emotional states may be caused by primarily intrapersonal perceptions of certain situations (e.g., feeling bored or lonely after coming home from work to an empty house) or by reactions to environmental events (e.g., feeling angry about an impending layoff at work).”

Romanticizing Substance Use

Some individuals in recovery may reminisce about their former days using substances. Remembering those dark days as though they were good times can be dangerous. The support network American Addition Centers notes “It’s easy for an addicted individual to remember only the positives of their abuse and forget all the anguish it may have caused them.”

Physical Changes

Anything from weight loss to wearing dirty clothes can be a red flag. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence says physical symptoms can include “flushed skin and broken capillaries on the face; a husky voice; trembling hands; bloody or black/tarry stools or vomiting blood; chronic diarrhea,” as well as “serious changes or deterioration in hygiene or physical appearance – lack of showering, slovenly appearance, unclean clothes.”

Breakdown of Social Structures

The onset of a relapse can sometimes be caused by feelings of hopelessness and isolation. Whether you have a falling out with your friends, family, counseling group, or sobriety coach, a breakdown of social structures can amplify these feelings of seclusion. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5), points to the “failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home” as a telltale sign someone might be on the verge of reverting back to substance use.

The Gándara Center is dedicated to providing comprehensive recovery services. From residential recovery homes specifically for women, men, or young adults; to outpatient addiction programs to peer-to-peer support, Gándara Center is committed to providing safe, secure, and healthy pathways for recovery.

If you or someone you know would benefit from our recovery programs, or is showing signs of a likely relapse, visit our website or contact us today and learn which services may best suit your needs.

Image via Focka
By |July 25th, 2018|Events, News|Comments Off on What Demi Lovato Can Teach Us About Recognizing Warning Signs of Relapse

New Study Shows Link Between Rising Temperatures & Suicide Rates

A new study out of Stanford University examines the relationship between suicide rates and rising temperatures due to climate change in both the U.S. and Mexico. The results are startling.

If temperatures continue to rise at their current rates, we could see an additional 9–40 thousand suicides in both countries combined by the year 2050.

For every increase of 1° Celsius, the U.S. can expect a 0.7 % increase in suicides. In Mexico, that rate jumps to 2.1%.

The study also looks at the connection between “depressive language” in more than 600 million social media posts and warmer temperatures. In addition, the study found “mental well-being deteriorates” during instances warmer weather.

Both suicide and climate change weigh heavily on peoples’ minds and spirits. Since 1999, more than half the 50 states have seen suicide rates jump by more than 30%. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicates a suicide rate increase of 35.3% in Massachusetts between 1999 and 2016—the national average during this time was 25.4%. In June, noted celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain brought suicide back to the forefront of national discussion when they tragically took their own lives.

And while some people and politicians continue to debate the cause of climate change, there’s no denying its effect on Massachusetts and the country at large. Data analyzed by the Northeast Regional Climate Center between 1895 and 2016 shows the state’s average temperature rose from 45.9° Fahrenheit to 50.3°. In 2012, the state average was 51.4°.  As a consequence, drought (low stream flows and dry soil) is a major concern for the Northeast region.

Neither suicide nor temperature rates show signs of reversing.

But what exactly is the cause of the link between the two? There could be multiple.

According to WBUR, a study of suicide among farmers in India attributed the loss of crops to rising temperatures, resulting in financial hardships.

There’s also a physiological element at play. Parts of the brain that deal with emotion are also used to deal with heat.

In the meantime, there’s plenty we can do to reduce suicide. Gándara’s outpatient clinic providers psychosocial assessment, psychiatric, and psychological evaluations; medication management; and therapy with the specific needs of its community members. Gándara’s services and assessments are delivered in a linguistically and culturally sensitive way to adults, children, couples, and families.

In addition, consider the following preventative measures you can take if you think someone is having or showing suicidal tendencies:

  • Walk-ins are welcome at Gándara’s outpatient clinic
    • Location: 2155 Main Street Springfield, MA 01104
    • Contact: Wanda Tosado,, (413) 736-0395 x702
  • Warning signs can include feelings of isolation, of being trapped, or of hopelessness, so it’s important that people reach out and ask others if they’re experiencing feelings of suicide.
  • Keep people safe by reducing their access to dangerous substances and providing support resources.
  • Be there for them, listen to them, connect them with help, and follow up with them.
  • Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454) or the Crisis Text Line by texting 741741.
By |July 25th, 2018|News|Comments Off on New Study Shows Link Between Rising Temperatures & Suicide Rates

Mass. Senate Scraps Plan for Safe-Injection Site

The Massachusetts Senate scrapped a provision in a major bill to combat the opioid crisis on Thursday, July 19. The provision would have established a safe-injection site for substance users as a step toward their recovery. These sites enable people to inject illegal drugs under direct supervision of healthcare professionals. Here, they could’ve also received medical attention, therapy, and referrals for additional treatment options.

Prior to the senate vote, U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling commented that safe-injection site users could still be subject to prosecution under federal law.

“’Supervised injection facilities’ would violate federal laws prohibiting the use of illicit drugs and the operation of sites where illicit drugs are used and distributed,” said Mr. Lelling in a statement. “Employees and users of such a site would be exposed to federal criminal charges regardless of any state law or study.”

The bill, however, establishes a commission that will study best practices, possible areas for improvement, and the overall feasibility of safe-injection sites. The commission must submit a report of its findings to the state legislature by February 2019.

Governor Charlie Baker told the Boston Globe on Thursday he thinks “sanctioning heroin injection facilities does not reduce overdose deaths and these facilities are not a responsible tool to combat the opioid  epidemic.”

Gov. Baker’s hesitation to greenlight the use of illicit substances, even in the name of harm reduction, is understandable; the opioid crisis continues to wreak havoc on individuals and communities across the state and the country. Data from the Mass. Department of Public Health confirms that there were at least 201 opioid-related overdose deaths from January to March of this year, and estimates an additional 240 to 305 deaths.

But there’s no denying the effectiveness of safe-injection sites. A study from 2014 analyzed 75 scientific articles and found that overall, safe-injection sites successfully promote safer injection conditions for users, through provisions like clean needles; reduce overdose frequency; reduce public syringe disposal; and yield no increase in injections, trafficking, and crime in areas surrounding the sites.

Vancouver opened the first safe-injection site in North America in 2003. In 2011, a study showed that overdose deaths within a half mile of the Vancouver facility dropped significantly while change occurred across the rest of the city. Average monthly ambulance calls for Narcan treatment also dropped, as did reported cases of HIV contraction.

Safe-injection sites are also an efficient use of public funds. Data from the first five years of the Vancouver program indicated the city saved more than $6 million annually.


Image via Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism


By |July 20th, 2018|News|Comments Off on Mass. Senate Scraps Plan for Safe-Injection Site

Re-Entry Program for Prisoners in Plymouth to Feature Wrap-around Team Approach

For many former prisoners transitioning back into their communities, the cycle of re-incarceration is difficult to break. And studies show that released inmates who have substance use disorder—often combined with another mental disorder—are more likely to end up back behind bars if they don’t get proper treatment and access to community services.

The five-year Gándara Center-Plymouth County MISSION Re-entry Program, to begin in September of 2018 at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility, will provide coordinated and integrated services for 260 incarcerated men who are assessed with substance use disorder, co-occurring other mental health issues, and are at high risk to reoffend.

The project was funded by a $425,000 grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In the first year, the program will assist 40 individuals who are within four months of finishing their sentences and returning to the greater Brockton and Plymouth communities. All 260 clients across five years will be the focus of the evidence-based practice called MISSION-CJ (Maintaining Independence and Sobriety through Systems Integration, Outreach, and Networking-Criminal Justice).

The MISSION-CJ model, developed at the UMass Medical School, integrates Critical Time Intervention and Dual-Recovery Treatment evidence-based practices and a wrap-around team approach (clinician, case manager, and peer) to increase access to treatment, community linkages, recovery support, and support in building positive family/community connections. “The program will also provide a full array of community linkages, including mental health/substance abuse treatment, medication-assisted treatment, medical, dental, infectious disease treatment, vocational and employment placement, and sober housing placement,” said Virginia Mercure, director of peer recovery support services at the Gándara Center.

In addition, the program will also feature a mindfulness and peacebuilding class that promotes a process of healing from a multicultural perspective. Recovery support services will be provided, including transportation, a vocational unit and linkages, and wrap-around case management that offers linkages to benefits, money management, relapse prevention, and life skills—along with substance abuse education curricula.

The goals of the project are to expand access to pre- and post-release services to offenders; increase housing and economic stability; reduce substance use, crime, and violence; and prevent recidivism.

By |July 13th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Re-Entry Program for Prisoners in Plymouth to Feature Wrap-around Team Approach

Heather Murphy Receives Field Supervisor Award

Heather Murphy, director of clinical operations at the Gándara Center, was recently one of three recipients of the 2017-2018 Field Supervisors of the Year Award, which was presented by the Springfield College School of Social Work. Congratulations, Heather!

Murphy, MSW, LICSW, has been at Gándara since 2011. At present, she is responsible for the management of clinical services across all agency divisions and provides vision and leadership to enhance service provision by administering consistent, coordinated, and appropriate care with a focus on quality, outcomes, and consumer satisfaction.

She began at Gándara as the clinical supervisor at Maple STARR before moving on as the clinical director for the Continuum program, and then as the agency’s director of quality management. Murphy received her master’s degree in social work from Fordham University and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in social work from Walden University. In addition to her work at Gándara, she is also the assistant field director and an adjunct professor in the social work department at Elms College.

The Gándara Center is always looking to provide opportunities for college students to gain practical experience in pursuing their social work degrees. Do you know anyone who would like to perform an internship at the Gándara Center? Internships are a great way to convert classroom knowledge into real world skills.

For more information on internship opportunities, contact Kathleen Brown, director of human resources, at 413-736-8329 or

By |July 9th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Heather Murphy Receives Field Supervisor Award

Joanny Torrales Celebrates 15 Years at Gándara

What a difference a decade and a half makes. Just ask Joanny Torrales.

On July 1, Torrales marked her 15th anniversary working at the Gándara Center—but in reality she started here in May of 2003 on a state grant as the assistant to the senior manager of Adult Residential Services. Two months later she was hired as a secretary at Gándara’s administration offices at 333 East Columbus Ave. in Springfield, at a time when the agency had just one other location: its original Outpatient Clinic at 2155 Main Street in Springfield.

“Back then we had around 300 employees,” she recalled. Now Gándara has more than 40 sites across the state and over 800 employees. “It amazes me how much this place has grown,” said Torrales. And with the agency’s expansion over the years she said she has “grown a lot at Gándara and learned a lot.” Now she is the managed care liaison—basically Gándara’s go-to person and problem-solver for a variety of procedures with MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program, which has undergone significant changes in the past two years.

When Torrales isn’t at work, she works out at Boss Lady Fit Camp in Springfield every day, and with exercise and proper nutrition she lost 100 pounds in less than a year. “My goal was to do more things with my kids,” she said. “I did it for myself and my family.”

After the weight loss, she now finds that she can better keep up with her four children, aged 20, 15, 10, and 8. Her oldest son has autism, and her youngest son has severe ADHD—so that presents challenges. “But God will never give you more than you can handle,” she said with a smile.

Congratulations on 15 great years at Gándara, Joanny!

By |July 6th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Joanny Torrales Celebrates 15 Years at Gándara

Gov. Baker Announces $1 Million in Narcan Grants

Gov. Charlie Baker was at The Champion Plan office in Brockton on June 28 to announce nearly $1 million in grants funding for 33 communities around the state to buy the overdose-reversing drug naloxone—commonly known as Narcan. Brockton is receiving up to $45,000.

Pictured above after the event are Gándara Center employees Ginny Mercure, director of peer recovery support services, Stairway to Recovery Program Director Efrain Baez, Gov. Baker, and Rebecca Muller, who heads Gándara’s grant writing efforts.

“Our police and fire departments are often first on the scene of an overdose and it is critical that they have access to the medication they need to save an individual’s life,” said Gov. Baker. “Our administration remains committed to providing resources to our communities to curb this public health epidemic, and to stemming the tide of overdose deaths in Massachusetts.”

Also speaking at the press conference were Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, and Recovery Coach Andrew Ledoux.

Mayor Carpenter pointed out that in many cases, those whose lives were saved after being administered naloxone in Brockton end up in The Champion Plan, a police-assisted recovery program that brings individuals suffering from a substance use disorder to the Brockton Police Department for help. From there, the Gándara Center provides recovery coaches to support people entering into the program. They are taken to the Champion Plan office, which serves as a safe haven as they wait to get into a treatment facility. Once a bed at a treatment center is available, Brewster Ambulance provides transportation to the treatment center. Recovery coaches are available for follow-up services and call clients at the treatment center within 72 hours to check in.

Baez noted that treatment facility placements typically take place within an hour or two—often in as little as 20 minutes—and that the program has always been able to find someone a treatment bed. “The program has a perfect score in terms of treatment center placements,” said Baez.

Gov. Baker, Mayor Carpenter, and Sec. Sudders all talked about the value of naloxone, which cities and towns have been buying from a state bulk purchasing program established three years ago. “Broad distribution and access to naloxone is one key strategy of the Commonwealth’s response to the opioid epidemic,” said Sec. Sudders. “The Municipal Naloxone Bulk Purchasing Program was established to allow communities to purchase this life-saving medication at a discounted rate, and by making naloxone more accessible we can save more lives and provide opportunities for treatment and recovery.”

In a question-and-answer session, Gov. Baker explained the pivotal role recovery coaches play in helping recovering clients gain access to services, resources, and supports. He said his CARE act, which he put before the Legislature last November, would create a professional credential program for recovery coaches.

Andrew Ledoux, a recovery coach for the Gándara Center and the Champion Plan, spoke about his journey after being incarcerated, and then homeless two years ago. “My passion is to work with individuals to suffer,” he said. “I can confidently say that’s why I was put on this earth. It’s my purpose.”

Baker press conf

(L-R) Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter, Gov. Baker, Recovery Coach Andrew Ledoux, and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders

Stairway to Recovery Program Director Efrain Baez and Sec. Sudders

Keith Wilson, director of education at Brewster Ambulance, demonstrates the application of Narcan on Hal, the training mannequin.

By |July 5th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Gov. Baker Announces $1 Million in Narcan Grants

Donor Profile: Bill Trudeau, President and CEO of Insurance Center of New England

When Bill Trudeau was considering having his company, Insurance Center of New England (ICNE), be a gold sponsor of the Gándara Center’s Frozen Yogurt 5K in Northampton for the third year in a row, it didn’t take him long to declare an emphatic “yes!”

The race, which will take place on August 26 at 9:00 a.m., is raising funds to build a universally accessible playground at our Mooreland residential group home for children. “After all, it’s for a great cause,” he said. “One of our core values at ICNE is ‘Always do the right thing,’ and that means being actively involved in the community.”

Trudeau has always felt compelled to give back to the community, taking leadership positions with such organizations as the American Red Cross of the Pioneer Valley (board member and former board chair), Hilltop Child & Adult Services (board president), the Springfield Museums (corporator), the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County (board member), Wilbraham United Church (governing board chair), and Hispanic Resources Inc. (board member), which provides housing for the mentally challenged primarily in the Hispanic community.

For Trudeau, this sense of social responsibility is deeply rooted in his family and in his childhood experience with the Boy Scouts, charity work in high school, and chairing the philanthropy committee of his fraternity, Alpha Chi Rho, at UMass Amherst, where he graduated with a BA in General Business/Finance from the university’s Isenberg School of Management. “I’ve been very fortunate in my life, and, like the old saying, much is expected from those whom much is given,” he said. Through his church, Wilbraham United, he has gotten involved in several mission outreach activities. Through Link to Libraries, a western Massachusetts non-profit that collects and distributes new and gently used books, he has been a volunteer reader for elementary school students at the Sumner Avenue School in Springfield for the past three years.

He especially likes getting involved in the Frozen Yogurt 5K because not only because of what it supports, but also because of the fun mood it creates in downtown Northampton. “It’s fantastic seeing a lot of the Gándara folks at the event, including Henry East-Trou,” the Center’s executive director, he said. “Every time I talk to Henry I get the feeling of someone who’s working feverishly to deliver for his clients.”

Trudeau joined Insurance Center of New England in 1990, finding his career “by accident” two months after graduating from college—at the time he wanted to be in sales, but trained for three years in a specialty program in insurance for banks. He became a partner and owner in 2001, has served as the president and CEO since 2012, and today he handles a diverse group of casualty property insurance accounts. Trudeau was named to BusinessWest magazine’s 40 Under Forty in 2008. “I was 39 years old—I just got in under the wire,” he said with a laugh.

The East Longmeadow native lives in Wilbraham with his wife, Tammy, and two daughters, 21 and 18. The couple will celebrate their 25th anniversary in September.

By |July 3rd, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Donor Profile: Bill Trudeau, President and CEO of Insurance Center of New England