(Patrick D. Rosso/2014/Boston.com)
A $15,000 donation made by the Claddagh Fund to the Gavin Foundation Tuesday will help support the organization’s work tackling substance abuse in Boston neighborhoods.
“We operate a lot of programs on a shoe string, from the Cushing House to the Recovery Support Center, and this money gives us a major boost,” explained John McGahan, president of the Gavin Foundation, which is based in South Boston.
McGahan was joined by Mayor Martin J. Walsh, a former Gavin Foundation board member, and Ken Casey, the founder of the Claddagh Fund and member of the Dropkick Murphys.
“The work that goes on here is near and dear to my heart,” said Casey, who founded the fund in 2009. “Anything I and the Claddagh Fund can do to help is an honor and privilege. The work they do here is life and death; this is the front line.”
The event also offered an opportunity for the foundation to highlight Walsh, a strong supporter of recovery programs. He is expected to be honored at the foundation’s Open Heart, Open Homes fundraising gala in June.
“When I stopped drinking, I never intended to stop drinking,” said Walsh, who has faced his own battles with substance abuse. “I stopped drinking because of what I heard in a meeting and it clicked in my head.”
Walsh said the programs run by the foundation are particularly close to his heart, because of the substance abuse challenges South Boston and Dorchester face.
“To have their expertise right in the neighborhood is so important,” said Walsh, who said he is excited as mayor to lend his support to its efforts.
“It gives me [being mayor] a whole new level to help educate people about the impacts of drugs and alcohol,” Walsh added.
South Boston and Dorchester have some of the highest heroin/opioid mortality rates in the city, according to the Boston Public Health Commission’s 2011 report “Substance Abuse in Boston.”
The report also found that South Boston has the highest rates of heavy alcohol consumption by adults.
“People seek services where they are,” said McGahan. “The easier you make it for people to enter treatment, the better off they will be.”
McGahan added that the money received Tuesday is of particular importance because 18 to 22 percent of those that enter the foundation’s treatment programs don’t have insurance.
“We’re not in the business of turning people away,” McGahan said.
With programs for both youth and adults, the Gavin Foundation serves more than 4,500 individuals annually.