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June 23, 2023
At Alnylam, we strive to make a positive impact on the communities where we live and work. Our employees in all of our offices around the globe volunteer their time throughout the year working with local community partners to support a variety of programs and services. This volunteerism is not only a passion of our employees but it’s also an important part of Alnylam’s approach to corporate responsibility.
CASPAR’s Origin Story
The primary mission of CASPAR (Cambridge And Somerville Programs for Addiction Recovery) is saving lives today, in hopes that people will seek help tomorrow. CASPAR is a community-based non-profit that was started around 50 years ago by Judge Lawrence Feloney. In the early ’70s in Massachusetts, being intoxicated in public was illegal. So, if you were found under the influence, you were arrested on the spot. Judge Feloney ended up being the judge on a lot of these cases.
On Christmas Eve 1970, a man came into court, arrested for being intoxicated. Feloney insisted that the charges be dropped and that he could go home. But the man replied that he had nowhere to go and did this so he could spend Christmas Eve somewhere warm. Judge Feloney, inspired by this man, brought together a group of individuals who all founded CASAPAR and opened the first house for homeless men who were struggling with addiction and gave them all somewhere to stay as they worked on becoming sober.
As they started to see how big the need for shelter and a place to detox was for so many people, the house for men grew even more in the 90s when they started taking in women and it eventually became CASPAR’s co-ed emergency shelter.
MIT took the lead in creating and supporting CASPAR’s first co-ed emergency shelter which was built in a parking lot that they owned. CASPAR has operated for over two decades at this location at 240 Albany Street in Cambridge, MA, where they don’t send people away, no matter who they are and no matter what condition they are in. CASPAR welcomes all people no matter their identity, they were one of the first shelters to welcome members of the LGBTQ+ Community, and we have done so for decades.
CASPAR’s Model of Care
Every day, CASPAR serves more than 350 people over 1500 people a year, and their model is based on this idea of a “continuum of care.” Think of it like a train. The front of the train is the street outreach van. Each day, 365 days a year, the outreach team is out on the street for 10 hours, aiming to build relationships with our homeless neighbors who aren’t ready for shelter yet. For example, 95% of homeless women have suffered from domestic or sexual violence. So, many women often feel like they would be safer on the street than in a shelter. The team brings food and water every day, checks up with them, finds out what they need, and then tries to bring them the supplies or items they ask for.
The second step (or train car) in the continuum of care is getting people from the street into emergency shelters. Each emergency shelter has around 65 beds, but CASPAR would never turn someone away, especially during an emergency. The emergency shelters are “wet” shelters which means that they accept people who are actively using drugs and alcohol – CASPAR operates one of only two wet shelters in the state of Massachusetts. They provide clients with mental and medical health care, nutritious meals, hygiene supplies, clothes, counseling, and case management. They also assist clients with finding a job, permanent housing, or any other referrals they may need. Following shelter care, they work to enroll our clients in our detox centers and then transition them into one of our six recovery homes/shelters which all have about 15 to 20 beds.
CASPAR has found that community support leads to much better outcomes for residents. The centers also host Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings, Narcotics Anonymous Meetings, and other medical and social therapies for residents. The final car in the train is the transition from shelters to houses and apartments. Once residents graduate from their recovery programs, there are dedicated housing specialists who work to help them find housing, grants for personal funding, and employment. They also have programs to help them furnish their apartments to make them feel at home.
CASPAR is proud to share that in the past year, they successfully housed over 100 people! Thanks to the efforts of their incredible staff and volunteers.
One thing that I really love about working with Alnylam is how reliable you all are. When you commit to helping us and serving people, you always follow through 100%. Alnylam is one of our strongest supporters. The work that you have all done has truly saved so many lives since you started working with us in 2019.”– Julia Londergan, esq, Director of Development, CASPAR
The Value of Alnylam’s Partnership
To date, Alnylam employees have volunteered at the most Cookin’ with CASPAR events of any other corporate partner. CASPAR relies on corporate partners like Alnylam to fund and staff these events that provide home-cooked meals for clients.
During the holiday season of 2020, Alnylam began the now annual tradition of going above and beyond for the “Give Homelessness the BOOT!” Campaign. In 2020 Alnylam sponsored 220 homeless neighbors and provided essential winter items, like hats, boots, and jackets. The teams raised so much extra money that with our donations, CASPAR was able to buy items for an additional 300 people. Alnylam also stepped up and donated hundreds of sleeping bags for people on the streets during the pandemic, which was incredibly helpful as so many people were afraid of going to shelters because of COVID-19.
Homelessness and addiction are complex, multi-faceted issues, that require the support of a community to address them. Organizations like Alnylam need to step up and be a part of the solution. Like we always say, Challenge Accepted.
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