May 5, 2011
By: Joe Siegel/TRT Reporter
Wilfred Labiosa has been named as the new Executive Director of CASPAR, a non-profit organization based in Somerville. CASPAR was founded in 1970 and provides a wide range of services to people dealing with substance abuse issues. When the organization began, there were no treatment options available for the 10 percent of the population affected by substance abuse disorders.
“(CASPAR) really has grown from being a single halfway house for men, and we used to have shelters that were in trailers (behind MIT) so we grew from that to having a continuum of care,” Labiosa explained.
CASPAR serves more than 2,000 individuals on a yearly basis. The First Step Street Outreach team travels by foot and by van to offer help to homeless men and women in the places where they congregate throughout Cambridge and Somerville. The staff offer unsheltered individuals access to emergency medical and psychiatric care, meal programs, shelters, substance abuse treatment, and daytime drop-in and social service centers.
CASPAR also has a drop-in center and provides employment assistance programs. They also offer substance abuse counseling to students at Cambridge and Somerville High Schools.
Labiosa was one of several candidates for the position of Executive Director. The job has been highly rewarding for him.
“I have been enjoying the challenges and also the benefits,” said Labiosa, who has more than 15 years of experience in the field of substance abuse, mental health, public health, and not-for-profit management.
Labiosa has worked with national federal entities, as well as state level organizations. Locally, he has worked with city and state health departments, non-for-profit organizations, and government agencies in the metro Boston, Worcester, Brockton, and Lowell areas. He is active in professional associations and has been a board member of several not-for-profit organizations.
CASPAR’s clients come from all walks of life, including LGBTs and people living with HIV.
The reasons why people abuse drugs or alcohol can range from unemployment to immigration or health issues. Labiosa noted that many may have suffered a traumatic experience in their lifetime, which led them to self-medicate.
“Recovery is a life-long battle and it can begin with prevention programs like CASPAR’s Youth services, Phoenix Drop-In Center, and First Step Outreach Team,” Labiosa explained.
“It is imperative that we educate our youth and community-at-large about the implications that alcohol and substance abuse has in our lives, community and society,” Labiosa said. “It is one of the leading causes of death in our states. I hope that people support organizations like CASPAR across our New England states in the hopes that we can provide the necessary continuum of care for people in recovery.”
CASPAR relies on donations from hundreds of individuals in order to provide services to its clients.
On May 17, a fundraiser will be held at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center from 6 to 8 p.m. The proceeds will be used for CASPAR’s programs and services.
For more information about CASPAR, go to www.casparinc.org.