In Capuano vs. Pressley Debate, Missed Opportunity to Talk Opioid Crisis & Mental Health

On viernes, agosto 7, candidates running for the Massachusetts 7 Congressional District debated at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Incumbent congressman, Michael Capuano (D), squared off against Boston City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley (D). The two candidates touched on a number of subjects; from race relations and immigration, to transportation and equity, to age and experience, but noticeably absent from the discourse were the topics of substance use and mental health, in particular the opioid crisis.

That is not to say matters like race, transit, and experience do not matter in this contest; they most certainly do. The 7 Congressional District is noted for its vibrant cultural and economic diversity.

More than half the population identifies as non-white, according to U.S. Census data. For 20 years Capuano, a Dartmouth College graduate with a law degree from Boston College and an attorney by trade, has represented the district and is highly popular with residents. Pressley, the first woman of color on the Boston City Council and former aid to John Kerry and Joseph P. Kennedy II, aims to unset Capuano on a platform of change, energy, and grassroots-level organization. She says her perspective is fresh and aligns with the diversity of the district.

The District is composed of the cities of Chelsea, Everett, Randolph, Somerville, and large portions of Boston, Cambridge, and Milton.

Opioid Crisis & Minority Populations

For minorities in particular, the opioid epidemic has been nightmarish. From 2014–2017 opioid-related deaths among Hispanics more than doubled in Massachusetts, a rate higher than any other demographic. In some of the district’s communities, as seen in the chart above, overall overdoses also doubled from one year to the next.

Boston EMS respond to dozens of thousands of incidents every year, and in 2015, 2016, and 2017 overdoses constituted just 1.3%, 1.4%, and 1.5% of those incidents. But, as you can see in the chart below, those small percentages actually represent a growing rate of overdose responses; from 1,544 to almost 2,000 in just three years. (Remember: not all of Boston is part of the district, though the majority of its land area and population are).

Data via Boston EMS 2017 Vital Statistics

Data via Boston EMS 2017 Vital Statistics

Still, there is reason to be optimistic. Data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health indicates overdose deaths and opioid-related incidents are beginning to slow down across the state. This is likely due in part to the growing accessibility of the overdose prevention drug known as Narcan. In Boston, for example, calls in which Narcan was administered were up 30% in 2017.

In addition, the state legislature has pushed multiple bills that target the crisis while Gov. Charlie Baker’s (R) budget allocates ” $203 million across multiple agencies (not including MassHealth) for treatment and services for individuals with substance use disorder, an approximately 70% increase since 2015,” according to his press office. It also calls for a $109 million increase in funding for the Department of Mental Health and a $1 billion in the Department of Children and Families.

Further, a recent study led by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health looked at the rate opioids were prescribed in congressional districts in 2016. It found that rates in districts concentrated near urban centers, including Boston and the 7 District, have the lowest prescribing rates and have been on the decline for years.

But this fight is a long way from over. That is why it was so striking that neither Capuano or Pressley used this opportunity to speak directly to their constituents about their plans to increase efforts to combat substance use and stigma, and support mental health initiatives. All of the topics discussed are in some way connected to the crisis and both candidates could have used those opportunities to nudge the conversation toward that subject.

Pressley’s campaign website has sections dedicated to substance use disorders, mental health, and public health. Capuano’s campaign website has a section dedicated to universal healthcare and improving community health centers.

The primary election is schedule for September 4. As of now, no Republican challengers have declared their candidacy.

Por |agosto 08, 2018|Eventos, Noticias, Política|Comentarios desactivados on In Capuano vs. Pressley Debate, Missed Opportunity to Talk Opioid Crisis & Mental Health

Donor Profile: Matt Bannister, primer vicepresidente de Marketing e Innovación, PeoplesBank

PeoplesBank has a long history of giving back to the community through volunteer efforts and millions of dollars in donations to charitable and civic causes. So when Matt Bannister, who manages the bank’s philanthropic grants to area non-profits and community service organizations, considered the Frozen Yogurt 5K as a possible recipient back in 2015, he said his decision was an easy one to make.

“When I saw that the Gándara Center sponsored the race—well, I knew their mission and the services they provide, and we were happy to donate,” said Bannister, the bank’s first vice president for marketing and innovation. PeoplesBank became a Silver Sponsor of the race that year because of Gándara’s crucial work with society’s most vulnerable populations according to Bannister. “It gave us an opportunity to reach out and feel like we were directly impacting the lives of people they serve—folks who really need a helping hand,” he said.

Under Bannister’s leadership, PeoplesBank’s donations to the Frozen Yogurt 5K doubled in recent years. The bank has been a Gold Sponsor for the past two years, and he is particularly happy that this year’s race is raising funds to build a universally accessible playground at Gándara’s Mooreland residential group home for children. “The 5K is a great vehicle for us to support the Gándara Center and help build a playground for these kids,” he said.

As a local, mutual bank, PeoplesBank has a commitment to better the communities it serves, and has done so through a variety of green initiatives—including financing wind, hydroelectric, and solar energy projects—as well as programs that support academic achievement, home ownership, and affordable housing. Helping the community “is baked into our DNA to some extent,” said Bannister.

When Bannister joined PeoplesBank nearly three years ago, he was a natural fit for his job because much of his career has involved promoting human causes on a large scale. Prior to his most recent post, he was executive vice president, corporate communications and brand content for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) in Dallas—the country’s largest health non-profit—for 14 years. Before that he was vice president-group account director at Arnold Worldwide, based in Boston, where he managed integrated marketing campaigns with a focus on anti-tobacco marketing efforts for such clients as the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the FDA, and the American Legacy Foundation.

Bannister first cut his teeth in the world of marketing and public relations fresh out of UMass Amherst, where he majored in communications. After graduating he was an account executive at Hill Holiday Advertising in Boston for five years. Then he spent nearly two years as communications manager at Golf Digest/Tennis, a unit of the New York Times magazine group, and following that he was communications director at Capital Sports Inc. in Trumbull, CT for two years. It was during his next stint at Arnold Worldwide, however, in which his career began to focus on public health campaigns. At Arnold, he had been promoting big brands, including Volkswagen, Puma, EMC, and Ocean Spray, before he was assigned to the DPH’s anti-smoking ad campaign. This opportunity came in 1993, when Massachusetts enacted a 25-cent per pack tax to fund a comprehensive tobacco control program, including anti-tobacco advertising.

“It was one of the pivot points in my career,” he said. He recalled attending his daughter’s fourth-grade take-your-parent-to-school career day and she introduced him by saying, “This is my dad. He saves lives for a living.” Bannister said it was an epiphany moment in his life. “I had a really good feeling,” he said with a smile. “I said to myself, ‘There’s something to this that makes my job worth more than a paycheck every two weeks.’” That experience led to his work for AHA/ASA.

In 2015, Bannister’s career brought him and his wife, Sharon, two daughters, and son back to western Massachusetts in part because he missed the Pioneer Valley, where he went to college. The entire family, including three dogs and a cat, lives in the same house in Hadley. This move back up north also enabled him to continue his career trend of “doing well by doing good,” as the saying goes, by managing PeoplesBank’s grants, events, sponsorships, and in-kind contributions to areas including academics, innovation, economic growth, and community vibrancy.

“I think that especially since the Great Recession 10 years ago many people have had a negative perception of banks, and frankly, before I came to PeoplesBank, I didn’t fully realize the ability of banks to help people,” said Bannister. “But when you think about it, banks help people grow businesses and buy their first homes—banks are there to help people succeed.”

To be sure, the charitable work of banks cannot be ignored either, especially in the case of PeoplesBank helping sponsor the Frozen Yogurt 5K, because the playground to be built by the Gándara Center will help provide some of the youngest individuals the agency serves with some joy during an incredibly stressful time in their lives.

“Part of my previous job involved seeking donations, which certainly was fulfilling, and now I’m on the other side of the desk, in a role where we provide grants to the community,” said Bannister. “All told, it’s gratifying to give back through the work that I do.”

If you are interested in donating to the Frozen Yogurt 5K, please contact Lisa Brecher at or 413-328-2045.

Mount washington

When Matt isn’t at work he is making the most out of life, including recently climbing Mount Washington with his son, Davis (above), as well as taking a hot air balloon ride with Sharon—or parachuting out of a plane at the Great New England Air Show at the Westover Air Reserve Base last July (below).


Por |agosto 07, 2018|Sin categoría|Comentarios desactivados on Donor Profile: Matt Bannister, primer vicepresidente de Marketing e Innovación, PeoplesBank

Here’s the 2018 Frozen Yogurt 5K Route [Map]

It’s less than three weeks until the 4th Annual Frozen Yogurt 5K road race and we hope you’re as excited as we are. The Frozen Yogurt 5K route map can be explored below.

This year, proceeds from the race will help us build a universally accessible playground at our Mooreland residential group home for children. This fantastic cause will enable Mooreland residents to use recreation as a way to promote  healthy living.

Frozen Yogurt 5K Route

Registration is still open but you better hurry! Sign up by August 15 and you’ll be receive a free t-shirt. And since we’re on the topic of free, don’t forget: kids age 5 and under can run or walk for free, and leashed pets can also join you for no extra cost.

Oh, and did we mention our friends over at GoBerry will be giving out free frozen yogurt samples?

Here are a few more housekeeping items to remember:


Sign up for the Frozen Yogurt 5K here.


The staging area is on the Courthouse Lawn across from the Calvin Theater. For GPS purposes please use 19 King Street Northampton, MA.

Official Times & Medal Categories 

Our 5K is officially timed by RaceWire. Medals will be awarded to the top three finishers in each of the following categories: Male, Female, 12 and under and 50 and over

Why We Run 

We run to raise awareness of mental health and addiction disorders and to put an end to the stigma surrounding these often misunderstood illnesses that affect so many of our friends and families.

Por |agosto 07, 2018|Eventos|Comentarios desactivados on Here’s the 2018 Frozen Yogurt 5K Route [Map]
Powered by GlobalLink OneLink Software