SPRINGFIELD — The Gandara Center officially opened its new Springfield Family Resource Center at 1095 Main St., significantly enhancing support services for the city’s most vulnerable families.

The center’s Feb. 9 inauguration was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by local dignitaries, community leaders, and Gandara Center staff. The nonprofit operates a vast network statewide.

The center offers a range of resources for families, including help with housing, education, legal systems, health insurance, EBT and behavioral health services. Located centrally, it ensures easy access to these services.

If the center cannot meet a specific need, its trained staff will direct families to appropriate services elsewhere.

Amanda Lesnick, vice president of support services at the Gandara Center, said,

“I have the absolute honor of supporting this program and all of your various prevention programs and their mission every day.”

Lois Nesci, The Gandara Center’s CEO, acknowledged the significance of the center’s relocation to a more central location. Before, the Family Resource Center operated at 18 Gaucher St., not easily accessed.

“Today is a very special day to celebrate our center and our relocation to a site on Main Street, both literally and figuratively,” Nesci noted. “This particular service has grown, and we have this wonderful opportunity to move our services here.”

The center allows for more direct collaboration with partner agencies and organizations like Square One, which offers family and educational programming.
She detailed the center’s services, including housing, education, legal support, health insurance access, and more, emphasizing the comprehensive nature of the support available to families.

Mayor Dominic Sarno praised the Gandara Center’s efforts, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on mental health.

“To have these wraparound services here is extremely important because they might be dealing with one situation, but they have multiple issues that are confronting,” he said, highlighting the center’s role in providing critical support.
The mayor said Gandara staff are working with community members on the “frontlines” and street level. “Because in your head, your heart, your gut. You care about people,” he added.

State Sen. Jake Oliveira (D-Ludlow) and state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez (D-Springfield) spoke at the event, underscoring the importance of community and governmental support in establishing such a vital resource. Oliveira praised the center as “a resource for all of Western Massachusetts.”

Gonzalez highlighted the real-life impact of the center’s services, particularly during challenging times like the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

State Rep. Orlando Ramos (D-Springfield) commended the Gandara Center staff for their dedication, stating, “What makes this organization special is the people that work here and serve the community of Springfield.”

Diana Dawkins, Springfield area director of the Department of Children and Families, emphasized the partnership between DCF and the Family Resource Center, describing it as “amazing” and highlighting the collaborative effort to serve families effectively.

The ceremony concluded with a ribbon-cutting, symbolizing the official opening of the Springfield Family Resource Center.