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CASPAR Helps People to Build Healthy and Fulfilling Lives

By S. Mathur

CASPAR is one of the few homeless shelters in the state of Massachusetts that will take in people with drug and substance abuse problems. That's because it was founded in 1970 with a mission to specifically "improve the lives of individuals and families who have been affected by substance abuse and related issues such as homelessness or mental illness." Recognition of the connection between substance abuse and homelessness led to the original shelter being expanded to add on services that addressed the root causes.

Julia W. Londergan Esq., CASPAR Director of Development, says that the organization has grown "from a single halfway house for men, and a shelter for homeless men and women, to a multi-service organization that offers intervention and prevention services to our homeless neighbors anywhere they may be on the recovery continuum. Our goal is to save lives today, so that treatment?and an end to addiction and homelessness--is possible tomorrow. Our programs instill hope that recovery is not only possible, but attainable."

CASPAR's service areas support people at all stages of the substance use/abuse/recovery continuum. These include street outreach, emergency care and shelter, stabilization, residential, aftercare, education, and prevention services. Londergan says "Our continuum of care begins with our First Step Street Outreach Van, which works with neighbors living on the streets to bring them into our shelter and connect them with medical, recovery and social services." CASPAR staff guide clients through all the stages of developing a "healthy and fulfilling sober lifestyle, while building relapse prevention skills. We also help our clients in securing employment and permanent housing."

The homeless shelter with more than 100 beds houses women and men in a 30:70 ratio. It is one of only three in Massachusetts that will not turn away people with drug and addiction problems. There are six recovery houses for men and women, and one of these is dedicated to pregnant and newly parenting mothers. Six-month recovery programs with individual and group counseling and community-based self-help groups help clients find the tools for long-term sobriety.

CASPAR relies heavily on community support for fundraising, volunteers and donations. The annual Strengthening Our Community fundraiser is held every spring and receives a positive response each year. And this year's 2016 Taste of Cambridge event held July 12, which featured more than 100 local restaurants and local specialty food stores like butcher, cheese, honey, wine, beer, specialty drinks and coffee purveyors, donated a portion of ticket sales to CASPAR.

Year-round donation drives collect items needed in the shelter and recovery houses. There is a running wish list which includes items such as new sheets and blankets, shoes, socks and underwear, and gift cards for stores like CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Costco and Target. Special baby needs include onesies, diapers, receiving blankets and maternity clothing.

To make a donation to CASPAR, or to learn more about how you can help with the organization's life-saving work on behalf of our homeless neighbors, please visit www.casparinc.org.

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