Read Our January Newsletter Online!

Gándara Center’s January newsletter is online! Read about our 5th Annual Frozen Yogurt 5K, which will take place on Sunday, August 25; noteworthy work anniversaries of employees at our agency, and our search for sponsors for our Aventura! Summer Camp Scholarship.

View photos from Gándara Center Family Night at the Springfield Thunderbirds. More than 140 employees and their families attended this exciting hockey game. Also in this newsletter: Gándara Center Director of Training Mark Huntington’s De-escalation and crisis management training session for staff on January 4.

Read the newsletter at

By |January 15th, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Read Our January Newsletter Online!

Employees and Families Enjoy 6-2 Home Hockey Victory at Gándara Center Family Night at the Springfield Thunderbirds

More than 140 employees and family members flocked to the MassMutual Center on January 11 to watch their hometown hockey team defeat the Hershey Bears, 6-2, at Gándara Center Family Night at the Springfield Thunderbirds.

Congratulations to Rosa Ramos (pictured below), care coordinator at Gándara Center CSA/CBHI, who was recognized on the HD scoreboard and the PA system with a Game Changer Award for nine years of dedicated service.

A large group from our agency assembled on the ice after the game for a group photo with Boomer, the Thunderbirds mascot. Our marketing and communications team also had a Gándara Center information table in the concourse area.

It was a hard-hitting, high-scoring affair, with Hershey striking first just 3:30 into the game. Then the T-Birds netted the next five goals!


Rosa Ramos (above), recipient of the Game Changer award



thumbs up


By |January 14th, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Employees and Families Enjoy 6-2 Home Hockey Victory at Gándara Center Family Night at the Springfield Thunderbirds

Gándara in the Media: Sara Moriarty, Director of the Hampden County Tobacco Free Community Partnership

Gándara Center is the host agency of the Hampden County Tobacco Free Community Partnership (TFCP), which supports smoke-free efforts of Springfield and surrounding communities in the home, school, and workplace.

On January 8, TFCP Director Sara Moriarty was on the WGBY Public Television show Connecting Point explaining why smoking cessation instruments such as vape pens and especially the JUUL device pose a risk to teens and tweens. “When e-cigarettes first hit the market, they were used as a way to curb nicotine addiction,” said Moriarty. “But when youth starting using them, we found that a whole new generation was getting addicted to these products.”

One of the problems with vaping, aside from the fact that it’s widespread among young people, is that the practice is fairly undetectable because the devices don’t emit the odors that are traditionally associated with smoking. Also, a JUUL is amazingly discreet—it looks just like a flash drive. Moriarty said there have been reports of students in the back of the classroom quickly and secretly JUULing “when the teacher turns around and writes on the chalkboard,” she said. Vaping and JUULing also affects immature brains and makes it easier for teens to later become addicted to other drugs.

On January 18, Moriarty will be one of the featured presenters at a Vaping Prevention Mini-Conference at West Springfield High School.

View the entire Connecting Point segment.

The Hampden County Tobacco Free Community Partnership

The TFCP helps to increase public knowledge of smoking as the leading preventable cause of death in Massachusetts; maintain MassHealth utilization rates in smoking cessation efforts; works to eliminate the sale of over-the-counter tobacco to youth; promotes the Ex-Smokers Hall of Fame project; and supports smoke-free housing efforts in Springfield and surrounding areas.

The TFCP also provides smoking related materials and education to professional health care providers about the negative effects of secondhand smoke and fosters relationships with the community and other human service agencies to ensure support for those who wish to live smoke-free lives.

By |January 9th, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Gándara in the Media: Sara Moriarty, Director of the Hampden County Tobacco Free Community Partnership

Save the Date: Our 5th Annual Frozen Yogurt 5K is on August 25

Have you made a New Year’s resolution to get in better shape? There is no better way to burn calories and get cardio exercise than training for a 5K! Our 5th Annual Frozen Yogurt 5K is on Sunday, August 25 at 9:00 a.m. in downtown Northampton.

Register today! Kids 12 and under run for free, and all runners—and walkers—get a free GoBerry Frozen Yogurt. Sign up by August 14 and you’ll be receive a free t-shirt.

We run to raise awareness of mental health and addiction disorders and to put an end to the stigma surrounding these often misunderstood illnesses that affect so many of our friends and families.

Leashed pets are also welcome to run for free! Organic, hand-made treats from 1 Little Black Dog will available for purchase with proceeds benefiting our cause.

Registration on race day will be available beginning at 8:00 a.m. Credit and debit cards will be accepted. The staging area is on the Courthouse Lawn across from the Calvin Theater. For GPS purposes please use 19 King Street Northampton, MA.

Our 5K is officially timed by RaceWire. Medals will be awarded to the top three finishers in each of the following categories: Male, Female, 12 and under and 50 and over.

For any questions regarding the event—or for those interested in having their business sponsor this year’s race­—please contact Lisa Brecher at 413-296-5256 or

Register online. Read about last year’s race.

Frozen Yogurt 5K Route:

2018 route map




By |January 9th, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Save the Date: Our 5th Annual Frozen Yogurt 5K is on August 25

De-escalation & Crisis Management Training: How to Defuse the Situation

Mark Huntington likes to begin training sessions by explaining why everyone calls him Mark H. It’s really quite simple. When he started at Gándara, there were two other Marks and so as a point of clarification, he adopted the name Mark H and it stuck. He tells this story because it helps create a connection with him and his trainees, a mutual understanding. They don’t feel like they’re sitting through a lecture. Connection is an important part of Mark H.’s de-escalation and crisis management training sessions, one of which he held on Friday, January 4. Empathy is a necessity.

De-escalation prevents confrontational situations from becoming aggressive and violent. “It’s not about trying to fix the situation,” said Mark H., “It’s about trying to survive the situation.” What he means is sometimes when we put a lot of energy into trying to fix a situation, that energy can increase the tension between you and the other person. He added: our actions and attitudes have an impact on the actions and attitudes of others. Sometimes your approach can be a part of the problem.

verbal agitation scale

Mark H. has of 25 years of experience in the field. Much of that has been focused on de-escalation. From his time working with inner-city gang youths to being yelled at by Green Berets, State Police, and corrections officers (to name just a few), Mark H. has found that de-escalation is as much about science as it is about intuition. People who suffer trauma, for example, have difficulty with logic and coping because that part of their brain—the part that triggers the fight, flight, freeze, submit, or cry for help reflex—has been deeply affected.

“Be what you want to see,” said Mark H. If you want someone to calm down, be calm; if you want them to listen, be a listener. It’s what he calls an integrated exercise, and he uses a scale to assess and respond to different types of verbal agitation.

At the low end of the scale, you might encounter someone who’s verbally spontaneous, intermittently silent, or talking to his/herself. In that instance, you should communicate your concern and express empathy. You might have someone who’s inquisitive, suspicious, or doubting (e.g., “Why would they do that? What’s their problem? Are they after me?”). Instead of simply communicating concern, try to provide them with answers to their questions while you acknowledge their feelings. At the high end of the scale, if the person is challenging or verbally threatening, it’s best to disengage and to seek safety and/or support from fellow staff members; sometimes a co-worker brings a different attitude or perspective to the situation that helps defuse it.

If such a situation arises at the workplace, the most important thing to do is to remain calm. You need to be able to think rationally, to analyze the situation and determine best approaches. Always, too, be empathetic to the person. You never know what they’ve been through and how it’s affected them.

By |January 7th, 2019|Events, People, Science|Comments Off on De-escalation & Crisis Management Training: How to Defuse the Situation

El Sitio Web de Gándara en Español—Gándara Website in Spanish

Don’t forget that you can access the Gándara Center website in Spanish at This version of our website links to the agency’s available resources in Spanish to enable a wider range of people to learn about our programs and services.

Because effective communication is key to serving all our clients, whether they speak English or Spanish—or are bilingual—our online information is easily available and accessible to meet their needs.

website in spanish

By |January 3rd, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on El Sitio Web de Gándara en Español—Gándara Website in Spanish