About Brian Fitzgerald

Brian is marketing and development coordinator at Gándara Center in West Springfield, MA.

View Our September Newsletter Online

Gándara Center’s September Newsletter is now online. You can read about our agency’s participation in National Recovery Month events across the state—from Holyoke to Hyannis, from Springfield to Boston (and even one in Hartford!).

View photos from our Frozen Yogurt 5K in Northampton—an event that raised more than $25,000 to directly benefit the individuals we serve.

You can also read about TDBank donating backpacks to our Mooreland STARR residential program, Gándara Center’s sponsorship of the Springfield Puerto Rican Parade on September 15, and our agency’s Stop Access Springfield Coalition hosting a Youth Leadership Conference at Springfield College on September 14.

Gándara Center was in the news: Hope for Holyoke Recovery Center Program Director Deb Flynn-Gonzalez was interviewed by WWLP-22 News on September 4 about increased federal funding for state opioid response grants; and Masslive covered Hurricane Maria victims receiving support from our agency.

Read the newsletter at bit.ly/GandaraSeptemberNewsletter.

By |September 10th, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on View Our September Newsletter Online

September is National Recovery Month: Join the Voices for Recovery!

Every September, the Gándara Center participates in National Recovery Month, which is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This longstanding observance, now in its 30th year, is designed to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders, celebrate people in recovery, and laud the contributions of treatment and service providers. The 2019 theme is Join the Voices for Recovery: Together We Are Stronger.

The focus of National Recovery Month has evolved over the years to shine the spotlight on the achievements of those in recovery. Recovery Month began in 1989 as Treatment Works! Month, which honored the work of substance use treatment professionals. The name was changed in 1998 to Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, expanding the occasion to include individuals who have succeeded in their recovery. It received its present name in 2011 to encompass all parts of the behavioral health industry, including researchers in the field.

Gándara Center National Recovery Month Events

Hope for Holyoke is one of several Gándara recovery support centers involved in events in conjunction with National Recovery Month (see below). Hope for Holyoke will have a large presence at Holyoke Recovery Day, as well as attending the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) Walks and Rally in Hartford, CT on September 21 and the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery (MOAR) celebration in Boston on September 16. Hope for Holyoke, as well as our PIER Recovery Center of Cape Cod, plans to attend the CCAR events in Hartford. Members of our Stairway to Recovery center in Brockton will also attend the Boston events, taking the 8:29 a.m. commuter train from the MBTA Brockton Station at 7 Commercial Street to South Station in Boston.




Friday, September 27
Recovery march and celebration starts at Heritage State Park on Appleton Street. The march ends at Veterans Park on Dwight Street.

12:00-1:00 Gather in Heritage Park for the March for Recovery. Bring a sign to show what you are celebrating about your recovery!

1:00-4:00 Veterans Park Recovery Celebration

  • Opening remarks, special guests, speakers
  • Mayor Alex MorseProclamation for Holyoke Recovery Day
  • State Rep. Aaron Vega with greetings from the Statehouse
  • Personal recovery stories of hope
  • Resource tables

There will be live music and dance, snacks, refreshments, giveaways, games, and prizes.


Wednesday, September 11
11:00 a.m. Relapse Prevention LIVE!! on Facebook

Friday, September 20
11:00 a.m. Recovery Cookout
George G. Snow Park, Crescent Street, Brockton

Thursday, September 26
10:00 a.m. Stairway to Recovery Open House (142 Crescent Street, Brockton): recovery support groups, t-shirt art project, and lunch




Friday, September 20

Holy Name Social Center (next to Liberty Prep Recovery High School), 37 Alderman Street, Springfield
10:50-2:00 p.m. ceremony, as well as lunch. Gándara Center will have a resource table at this event.



Wednesday, September 25
Mexican-themed dinner party at the PIER Center, 209 Main Street, Hyannis

Saturday, September 28

David Lewis 5K for Recovery (9:00 a.m.): PIER will have a resource table at this race is in Falmouth.




Saturday, September 21

Noon-6:00 p.m., Bushnell Park, Hartford, CT

CCAR began hosting the annual “Recovery Walks!” celebration in 2000. This year, CCAR was also chosen by Faces and Voices of Recovery to be the National Hub event for the 2019 Rally for Recovery. The band Shaded Soul will perform, and the event will feature stories of recovery, advocates, exhibitors, and plenty of fun activities (face painting, caricatures, food trucks, etc.)




Monday, September 16

Boston events:

9:00 a.m. Rally and march at City Hall Plaza

10:00 a.m. Celebration and Faneuil Hall

12:15 p.m. Lunch at Quincy Market

1:15 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Artists in recovery perform

Contact: Jared@MOAR-Recovery.org




The Plymouth Recovery Center is in the midst of planning a Recovery Month celebration at its location at 71 Obery Street in Plymouth. Details will be posted on the center’s website in the near future.

holyoke recovery 2018Pictured is the Holyoke recovery march in 2018.

By |September 10th, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on September is National Recovery Month: Join the Voices for Recovery!

Suicide Prevention: a Shared Responsibility

Starting a conversation about the topic of suicide is uncomfortable, but it’s worth it: speaking openly and frankly about suicide is one of the most effective ways to prevent it. September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, which provides a dedicated time for people to raise awareness and strengthen the fight against suicide.

Know someone who is struggling? Reach out. One conversation can make a difference.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death overall in the U.S. It is the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between 35 and 54.

According to a report released last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates increased 28 percent since 1999. In fact, every year, more than 41,000 people die by suicide—18 percent of them veterans. One way to bring that number down is to eliminate stigma surrounding mental health, especially since suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition. Another way to prevent suicide is to know the common warning signs of suicidal thoughts. Here are some of them, according to the American for Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

  • Talking about suicide, hurting themselves, death, or dying
  • Seeking access to firearms or pills
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
  • Having severe mood swings
  • Feeling hopeless or trapped
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Sleeping all the time or having issues with sleep
  • Uncontrolled rage or agitation
  • Self-destructive and risky behavior
  • Giving away personal belongings
  • Telling people goodbye for seemingly no reason

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is a time to share resources and stories in an effort to shed light on a problem that must be brought out of the darkness to save lives. Here is one story, by Michael Darer, a suicide attempt survivor.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454). For veterans, it’s the same number, but press one for Veterans Crisis Line. Counselors are also available for online chat by clicking here. Text messaging is available at 838255.

By |September 6th, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Suicide Prevention: a Shared Responsibility

Frozen Yogurt 5K Raises More Than $25,000

More than 180 runners and walkers gathered in downtown Northampton on August 25 for Gándara Center’s 5th Annual Frozen Yogurt 5K Run/Walk. The weather was beautiful, the racers were ready, and the GoBerry Frozen Yogurt was delicious. The event raised more than $25,000 to directly benefit the individuals we serve, to raise awareness of mental health and addiction disorders, and to put an end to the stigma surrounding these often misunderstood illnesses.

“I enjoyed the race,” said runner Rebecca Anderholm. “I’m not a fan of hills, but they always push me harder. We periodically pick races for local organizations to support good causes. We’re come from Orange, MA and we hope we can make a difference by giving our donations and getting in a little better shape.”

Her running partner, ZsaZsa Brunelle, agreed. “I met a lot of great people, the race was well-put together, and it’s a great city to run in,” she said.

The overall winner of the 5K was Melissa Hine, who finished the race with a time of 18:43.

Congratulations to all of this year’s medal winners:

Men 13-54: Michael Giles (19:05), Vee Bunn (19:49), Michael Shen (20:11)

Women 13-54: Melissa Hine (18:43), Rachel Lee (20:13), Abigail Touhey (20:24)

Boys 12 and under: Evan Anderson (22:13), Adam Rokicki (24:29), Ben Emond (30:43)

Girls 12 and under: Sarah Fardal (26:31), Maggie Goff (30:11), Bella LaFleur (42:01)

Men 55 and over: Anthony Lee (24:21), Herm Eichstaedt (26:48), James Merlin (28:26)

Women 55 and over: Laurie Redmond (30:39), Barbara Ruchames (31:39), Marta Carlson (33:50)

Gándara Center would like to thank this year’s race sponsors
(Donations and sponsorships are still coming in!):

Media Sponsor:
WWLP-22News/CW Springfield
Presenting Sponors:
Insurance Company of New England
Big Y
Marcotte Ford
W.B. Mason
Country Bank
Apothecare Pharmacy
Allied Floor & Paint
Skoler, Abbott & Presser, PC
This End Up
Whittlesey PC
Road Race Signage:
CopyCat Printshop
Law Office of Farber & Lindley
Sideline Cheerleaders:
Cowl’s Building Supply
Eastern Electronics & Security

Special thanks to:
MassAppeal Host Danny New (event emcee)
Mansfield Paper (bottled water)
Starbucks (ice, as well as coffee for volunteers)
Stage Rentals of Western Mass (rental discount)

And an ultra-special thank-you to our 15-plus volunteers!

For any questions regarding the event—or for those interested in having their business sponsor next year’s race­—please contact Jade Rivera-McFarlin at 413-296-6214 or jriveramcfarlin@gandaracenter.org.

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By |August 28th, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Frozen Yogurt 5K Raises More Than $25,000

View Our August Newsletter Online!

Gándara Center’s August Newsletter is now online—and we have plenty of video.

Christina Dillon, Peer Mentor at our Impact Center in Springfield, and Jade Rivera-McFarlin, our Director of Marketing and Fund Development, were live on Western Mass News on August 7 to talk about the 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament hosted by the Impact Center on Tuesday August 20. Speaking of Western Mass News, Jayson Sanchez, our Recruitment Marketing Specialist, was live the program on July 27 to talk about our job fair on August 3 at the Holyoke Mall.

You can also view the video of Eversource Energy at Camp STAR Angelina in Forest Park on July 17 presenting a $1,000 check to our Aventura! Summer Camp Scholarship Program. Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno was on hand, along with plenty of our campers.

Thanks to all who donated blood at the Red Cross Blood Drive at our 80 Commercial Street offices on July 16. We have video of Lavagn Claudio, senior family partner at Gándara Center, telling us why blood drives are so crucial.

Other videos: Elisandra Martinez, Peer Support Specialist at the Gándara Outpatient Clinic, talks about why it’s so important to know your hepatitis status, and our #GándaraAtWork series continues with a profile of Lara Quiles, supervisor of or CSP/RSN Programs.

And there’s plenty more, including a story on the proud history of our agency.

View the newsletter at http://mailchi.mp/gandaracenter/august-video-headlines.

By |August 13th, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on View Our August Newsletter Online!

We’re Marching in the Springfield Puerto Rican Parade on September 15

The 2019 Springfield Puerto Rican Parade is coming up on Sunday, September 15!

As a culturally sensitive organization, Gándara Center wants to represent in a big way. That being said, this year we are organizing a Gándara Puerto Rican Parade planning committee. Employees: if you are interested in being part of the planning team, please come out on Thursday, August 8 at 11:30 a.m. to our 80 Commercial Street office for the organizational meeting.

Those interested in marching with the Gándara Center on parade day please click here to register.

By |August 7th, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on We’re Marching in the Springfield Puerto Rican Parade on September 15

11 Gándara Center Employees Mark Milestones in August

Some Gándara Family commemorations: below are some noteworthy work anniversaries of employees at the agency in the month of August:

20 Years
Victor Ortiz, Fort Pleasant (Springfield)

10 Years
Jesse Jones, Fort Pleasant (Springfield)
Tarrell Sutton, Alternative Options (Chicopee)

5 Years
Carlos Aguilar, Information Technology (Boston)
Luis Crespo, Continuum (Chicopee)
Joanne Lucas, Residential Shared Living
Saul Martinez, Therapeutic Services (Boston)
Shenique Rosario, Chicopee STARR
Cheri Ruth, Holyoke STARR
Donna St. John, Residential Shared Living
Borja Vazquez-Roso, Therapeutic Services (Boston)

Congratulations everyone!

By |August 7th, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on 11 Gándara Center Employees Mark Milestones in August

We Need Volunteers for Our Frozen Yogurt 5K on August 25!

We want runners. But we also need volunteers—because they play a crucial part in one of the most exciting Sundays of the year: August 25. That’s when downtown Northampton becomes a road race hub as Gándara Center’s 5th Annual Frozen Yogurt 5K helps us to raise awareness of mental health and addiction disorders and to help put an end to the stigma surrounding these often misunderstood illnesses that affect so many of our friends and families.

We need volunteers for the water stations to keep our runners hydrated, and to help at our registration table. We are also recruiting volunteers to be race monitors and be a part of our setup and take-down crew.

Membership in our volunteer brigade has its privileges: you get a free Frozen Yogurt from GoBerry and you get a free Frozen Yogurt 5K t-shirt! And we have a lot of fun.

Attention Runners!

There is no better way to burn calories and get cardio exercise than training for a 5K! Our 5K! The race begins 9:00 a.m. in downtown Northampton.

Register here! Kids 12 and under run for free, and all runners—and walkers—get a free GoBerry Frozen Yogurt. Leashed pets are also welcome to run for free!

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, male 12 and under, female 12 and under, male 50 and over, and female 50 and over.

For any questions regarding the event, contact Contact Jade Rivera-McFarlin at jriveramcfarlin@gandaracenter.org or 413-296-6214.

Register online. Read about last year’s race.

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By |August 13th, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on We Need Volunteers for Our Frozen Yogurt 5K on August 25!

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 presenting sponsor of the Gándara Center’s Frozen Yogurt 5K in Northampton—after being a gold sponsor for three straight years— it didn’t take him long to declare an emphatic “yes!”

The race, which will take place on August 25 at 9:00 a.m., is raising funds to provide culturally sensitive services for children, adults, and families throughout the region.

“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.”

Bill 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 Bill, 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 recently retired executive director, he said. “Every time I talk to Henry I get the feeling of someone who has worked feverishly to deliver for his clients for decades.”

Bill 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. Bill 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, 22 and 19.

By |August 5th, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Donor Profile: Bill Trudeau, President and CEO of Insurance Center of New England

We’re Having a Job Fair at the Holyoke Mall on August 3

Looking for a new job?

Come on down to the Holyoke Mall on Saturday, August 3 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. for our job fair on the upper level near Target. Bring your resume and get a live interview right on the spot.

Jayson Sanchez, our Recruitment Marketing Specialist, was live on Western Mass News on July 29 to discuss this incredible opportunity. “We encourage candidates to dress to impress,” said Jayson.

We’re hiring, for example, Therapeutic Mentors and a LGBTQ Program Director. Check out our job listings for more details.

View Jayson’s segment on Western Mass News.

By |August 1st, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on We’re Having a Job Fair at the Holyoke Mall on August 3