Greater Lowell Community Foundation’s Annual Celebrate Giving Event Targets Opioid Epidemic

(l-r) GLCF Board President Joseph Bartolotta, UMASS Medical School Chancellor Michael Collins, MD, UMASS Lowell Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney, Ed.D., GLCF Executive Director James F. Linnehan Jr. Photo credit: Alyce O’Connell

(l-r) GLCF Board President Joseph Bartolotta, UMASS Medical School Chancellor Michael Collins, MD, UMASS Lowell Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney, Ed.D., GLCF Executive Director James F. Linnehan Jr. Photo credit: Alyce O’Connell

Lowell, MA – On Thursday, September 29, 2016 the Greater Lowell Community Foundation hosted its annual Celebrate Giving event at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center. Over 200 local philanthropists, community leaders, and nonprofit organizations were present.

Introduced by Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, keynote speaker Dr. Michael Collins, Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Medical School spoke about the opioid epidemic from an academic, medical, and social perspective. Massachusetts has seen a doubling in the number of opioid deaths in the last three years and the University of Massachusetts Medical School has developed a unique, powerful, nationally-recognized model to train medical professionals. “This affects every kid. It’s a major problem and a complex and multi-dimensional issue. All stakeholders must come together to address biases and barriers to treatment as the community has come together in this room tonight in the spirit of generosity,” Collins remarked. Collins outlined the key strategies in the University’s plan.

Massachusetts State Representative Thomas A. Golden Jr. received the Distinguished Service Award from the Community Foundation for his leadership in the areas of substance abuse prevention and treatment. As a state representative, Golden has advocated for state funding to reopen the Tewksbury Detox Center, secured $200,000 for opioid and substance abuse services in Greater Lowell, and sponsored several pieces of legislation to address the opioid epidemic in our communities. “We talk about ‘these’ people. I want you to remember the vernacular about these people 10 years ago. We’ve worked through other issues as a community. The most important thing we need to continue to do is shed light on the issue substance abuse,” said Golden.

Representative Golden was presented with an award of $1,000 from the Community Foundation and graciously donated it to Megan’s House, a residential treatment home for young women recovering from opioid addiction. Katie, a graduate of the Megan’s House recovery program accepted the award with Megan’s House founder Tim Grover.

“Philanthropy is not something that is reserved for the rich and powerful. It is something that every man, women and child can and should engage in–whether it’s with our money, our time, or our good deeds. Every little act of kindness makes a difference. The Community Foundation was founded for the people of our community, it’s your Foundation. One of the most critical issues we face today as a community is the opioid crisis. Too many families are being torn apart because of this addiction. We owe it to our community to respond and we have,” Greater Lowell Community Foundation Executive Director Jay Linnehan said.

In response to the issue of opioid abuse, the Community Foundation has made a 2-year strategic commitment. This year, the Community Foundation will direct over $70,000 in funding towards opioid abuse education, treatment, and recovery programs through its discretionary grants cycle, and is looking to partner with donors who are passionate about addressing this issue.

The Community Foundation also invited residents to join in a community giving campaign through GoFundMe where all of the proceeds will be added to the opioid abuse prevention and treatment grants being offered. The community campaign closed with surpassing it’s initial fundraising goal of $5,000 by more than $1,000 for a total of $6,010 raised.