2019 Boston Bulldogs Run for Recovery

Posted on by Joy Mosenfelder

On Sunday, May 19, clients, staff, and Board Member Drusilla Pratt-Otto joined runners from across the Greater Boston area for the annual “Run for Recovery” organized by the Boston Bulldogs Running Club. The annual run is a tribute to all those who are battling or have lost their lives to substance use disorder. Client participation from New Joelyn’s Home, LARC, and Women’s Hope was coordinated by Carmen Thurston, Supervising Counselor at New Joelyn’s Home.

“I run to be really present, to be in my body, now. I am able to focus on the very best I can be. With regard to the Bulldog’s, I run for the hope of recovery – both my family and globally.”

Vice Chair, Victory Programs Board of Directors, Drusilla Pratt-Otto

Please click the image below to see below for photos from the Run for Recovery:

2019 Run for Recovery

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Finding a Voice in Recovery – Cynthia’s Story

Posted on by Joy Mosenfelder

Cynthia first walked through our doors on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2018, when she entered our Living and Recovering Community (LARC) at the Shattuck Hospital. LARC is a stabilization program that specializes in helping people with a dual diagnosis of substance use disorder and HIV/AIDS. For Cynthia, entering recovery at LARC was the best Valentine’s Day gift she could imagine for herself, and for the people who love her.

Just a few short months earlier, Cynthia’s family waited anxiously for 40 days hoping she’d wake from a coma from injection drug-related medical issues. They had hope, Cynthia has always been a fighter and her children were convinced she’d be back on her feet, given time. When she did wake, she had three immediate challenges she was determined to face: relearning how to walk, relearning how to talk, and committing herself to recovery.

Cynthia’s story has a happy ending, she relearned how to walk, and how to talk, and how to maintain her recovery. She worked hard, first and LARC, then at two of our residential recovery programs, to build skills that would help her regain her independence. She moved into her own apartment at Serenity Supportive Housing where her family visits, often. Cynthia is committed to sharing her own experiences as a way of helping others in recovery. She’s shared a stage with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh at the annual MOAR Recovery Day at Fanieul Hall, with dozens of other Victory Programs clients at our annual Gratitude Dinner, and, most recently, with Governor Charlie Baker at our signature Dinnerfest Auction on April 7!

Cynthia, like so many of our clients, demonstrates that recovery is possible. Today, she has a strong relationship with her family, a comfortable home, 19 months of sobriety, and she is committed to helping others find the gifts of recovery.

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STI Awareness Month

Posted on by Joy Mosenfelder

Guest Blog by Taryn Lipiner, Mobile Prevention Team Intern

As the end of the month is quickly approaching, we wanted to take the time to acknowledge that April is dedicated to STI awareness, bringing attention to the importance of preventing, testing for and treating STIs. This month also gives us the opportunity to normalize routine STI testing and to start conversations about sexual health. In the United States, nearly 20 million new STIs occur each year, and given that infection rates continue to rise in our country, it’s critical that you know the facts in order to protect yourself and those around you. Firstly, you can’t tell if an individual has an STI just by looking at them. While some STIs don’t produce any symptoms, others may take up anywhere from a few days to several weeks before they present. Therefore, the only way to know for sure is to get tested.

It’s also important to note that STIs can only be spread through direct sexual contact or by coming into contact with infected body fluids during vaginal, anal or oral sex. Although birth control methods are effective ways to prevent pregnancy, they will not protect you from contracting STIs. So how can you best protect yourself? When used both correctly and consistently, condoms are an effective method to prevent STIs. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is also a great tool for preventing HIV transmission and is upwards of 95% effective when taken regularly. In addition, it’s important to know your sexual partners, and their STI history is as important as your own. Get tested whenever you or your partner has a new sexual partner. The recommendation is to get tested every 3 to 6 months.

Don’t Forget! The Mobile Prevention Team at Victory Programs has free and confidential STI testing and linkage to treatment every Tuesday from 3-6 pm at 29 Stanhope Street. Although appointments are preferred, they’re not required. In order to book an appointment, please email testing@vpi.org.

We also provide a wide range of community-based prevention education and services, including Transgender Peer Support Services and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Support. For more information about these services, please call (617) 927-0836.

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ReVision Urban Farm: Kicking off the 2019 growing season!

Posted on by Joy Mosenfelder

Guest Blog by Todd Sandstrum, Senior Grower, Victory Programs’ ReVision Urban Farm

Nestled among the triple-deckers, just off of Blue Hill Avenue, is a hidden farm that is one of Victory Program’s secret gems. A place you can sit and smell the flowers, watch the hard working bees, and taste the best of life without leaving the city limits. Revision Urban Farm is entering its 19th year with new staff, all of whom have the Spring itch and are ready to dive into the dirt. Revision Farm consists of two sites in Dorchester, the original farm resides on Fabyan Street and the newer site sits on Tucker Street, across Blue Hill Ave. Currently, the two sites are being restructured into an “Urban Farm Market Model.” This is a very exact model that looks at two factors; plant rotations and square foot production.  When you go to the farm, it’s going to be both high functioning and aesthetically pleasing.

Although smaller in size due to its urban location, ReVision Urban Farm’s production ability is impressive. Fabyan Street consists of about 2,863 linear feet of bed production, and Tucker Street has 3,428 linear feet.  All beds are 24 inches wide, which gives ReVision a total of 9,719 square feet of bed production. If you are wondering what these numbers mean or why they matter, here’s the breakdown: the farm has 100 foot beds where crops are planted in succession.  As soon as one crop is harvested from a bed, staff and volunteers replant the bed and start the next round of crop. A 100 foot bed of lettuce will yield 80 pounds from each planting. That bed can be replanted with lettuce 4 times in the season, which would yield a total of 320 pounds.  The average family of four uses about 40 pounds of lettuce a growing season, so one bed can produce enough lettuce for 8 families. ReVision Urban Farm generally plants six to eight beds of lettuce at a time, yielding a whopping 1,920-2,560 pounds of greens, fresh picked their peak for the highest nutritional value.

ReVision Urban Farm also provides a wonderful learning opportunity for community members and residents of Boston. Everyone eats food, and it is important to understand how the food we consume is grown and harvested. Farm staff have a mission to share knowledge and teach community members how to grow fruits and vegetables. Anyone can learn, that’s the great thing about farming! At one point, small farms dotted the country with Victory Gardens. At the peak of Victory Gardens popularity, two-thirds of Americans were able to produce 40% of our country’s vegetable needs. Today, we see the return of small-scale farming with what has been dubbed ‘Urban Agriculture.’

If you have the willingness to learn or just want to visit the farm, everyone is welcome. For more information on what’s happening on the farm, please follow them on Facebook, twitter or Instagram.

Meet the team:


Senior Grower

Todd Sandstrum  joins the Victory Programs’ Revision Urban Farm team with over 20 years in the agricultural industry. He is the former President of Southeastern Mass Agricultural Partnership and current Chairman of the Town of Easton Agricultural Commission.

He’s consulted for many farm operations across the northeast with different specialties and sizes, from as large as 3,000 acres to as small as half an acre. His goal is to help Revision move into the next stage of its growth by maximizing production and operations and by educating the public about sound agricultural practices for small scale farming.

When not at work, Todd enjoys time with his family as well as his horses, chickens, bunnies, cats, and dog. In the Fall, you may also find him paddling a giant pumpkin, a hobby that he holds two past records in for “longest distance paddling a pumpkin.”


Conor Brosnan spent the past 14 years working in the education field where he enjoyed being part of a community and having the ability to make a positive impact on his students. From a young age, he also had a strong interest in gardening and farming, holding various jobs at local farms and creating his own organic garden at home.

ReVision Urban Farm offered a chance to combine two of his passions, agriculture and helping others. The farm’s mission to bring fresh and nutritious food to those in the local Dorchester and Mattapan communities was what really drew him to the organization. When not at the farm, he enjoys listening to music, reading, running and hiking with his dog, Bodie.

Assistant Grower

Nicolas Saintmard is a young farmer with a background in Agronomic Engineering. He hails from Lamorteau, a small rural village in the South of Belgium. His exposure to sustainable farming and gardening techniques started from a very young age. After spending hours working in a lab during his Ph.D. studies, he realized that he strongly prefers working in nature.

In December 2018, he moved to Boston. Nicolas saw ReVision Urban Farm as an opportunity to garden with and for his new community and a way to share his love for  plant physiology knowledge. He is passionate about natural sciences, new agronomic practices, and working on DIY projects utilizing salvaged/recycled materials.

His hobbies include hiking, watching cactus seeds sprout, debating on cynicism with his military wife, and indulging his cat’s wildest cravings. Nicolas joins the Victory Programs’ Revision Urban Farm team with a strong passion for agriculture and the belief that to make a positive and sustainable change we must grow our food.

If you have the willingness to learn or just want to visit the farm, everyone is welcome! For more information on what’s happening on the farm, please follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. You can also give online to support the farm or check out the seedling sale and CSA!

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Wyss Foundation – Donor Spotlight

Posted on by Joy Mosenfelder

In December 2013, Victory Programs was thrilled to receive our first unsolicited gift from the Wyss Foundation. The Wyss Foundation’s continued gift of unrestricted funds over the past five years has provided vital support for clients across our 19 health, housing, and prevention programs.

“The work Victory Programs does each and every day helps transform lives and the larger community. This is exactly the kind of work that inspires us here at the Wyss Foundation and we are excited to play a small part in ensuring their work can continue.” – Molly McUsic, President of the Wyss Foundation

For over four decades, Victory Programs has remained committed our founders’ original promise: “All people deserve treatment and care. We take everyone.” Although Victory Programs offers a wide range of services from operating New England’s largest community and resource center for people living with HIV/AIDS, to residential treatment for people in recovery, to family shelters, and even an urban farm, the guiding principle behind everything the organization does is the belief that no matter what the emerging issue is, everyone deserves support, treatment and care to help them overcome crisis.

The Wyss Foundation’s continued commitment is a recognition of the power of Victory Programs’ philosophy of care – individualized, person-driven services that meet people where they are, focus on strengths, and support people in establishing goals as they work to recovery from substance use disorders, homelessness, and/or chronic illnesses like HIV/AIDS. Ongoing funding from generous partners like the Wyss Foundation enables Victory Programs to open the doors to new opportunities and transform lives for nearly 2,500 individuals and families every year. Victory Programs is honored to continue growing our partnership with the Wyss Foundation in the future.

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