NACHC’s advocacy team is excited to announce the Outstanding Advocate for October 2014, Michael Nicastro, Director of Community Outreach at East Boston Neighborhood Health Center!
Michael Nicastro has dedicated his career to serving the underserved at East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC). For the past 37 years, he has worn many hats at EBNHC- from his start as a lab technician, to working on the development of safety programs, to his current position as the Director of Community Outreach.
Michael’s efforts to engage various populations and bring them into the Health Center fold gets right to the heart of grassroots advocacy and the meaning of community. “One of my main duties is to reach the underserved and disenfranchised individuals who live in the communities of our catchment area,” he said. With so much unmet need in this country, reducing barriers to care is one of the most important ways Health Centers can improve and increase access to primary medical care. Michael leads the charge for East Boston by engaging those who are most in need. “I hold outreach events at schools and non-profit organizations. I go to churches of every denomination, as well as mosques. [I] reach out to those who are poor, undocumented, homeless, and have substance abuse problems.”
So far, his efforts have been very successful in bringing more and more people to the Health Center. EBNHC’s CEO, Manny Lopes, says of Michael, “[he] has done an excellent job advocating for many in our service areas, and often has been instrumental in helping community members access much-needed care.”
In addition to reaching out to individuals who might benefit from the many services EBNHC provides, he is always looking for ways to partner with other organizations, making good health and positive well-being a collaborative, group effort—not just something EBNHC tries to achieve on its own. One example of such partnership is the work Michael has done to facilitate a relationship between EBNHC and Cradles to Crayons, an organization that provides clothing, school supplies, and other essentials to children living in low-income households, poverty, or who are homeless. Another example, from his time working on safety programs at EBNHC, is operating a child safety seat distribution program at the Health Center in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Whether he is working with the homeless or another local-non-profit, Michael truly puts the “community” in Community Health Center.
As far as efforts on NACHC’s Access is the Answer campaign, Michael collected over 13,000 petition signatures from EBNHC and surrounding communities. His efforts to collect local support letters also proved fruitful, as he was able to secure copies from area mayors and city councilors as well as state-level representatives and senators. Local support letters are a crucial part of the Access campaign, as they demonstrate to Congress a broad base of support back home for Community Health Centers, and Michael’s tireless efforts on behalf of EBNHC certainly paid off—both of MA’s US Senators and Reps. Capuano and Clark (whose districts are served by EBNHC) recently signed on to letters calling for a fix to the Health Center Funding Cliff.
Congratulations, Michael, on being our October 2014 Outstanding Advocate!
Do you know an Outstanding Advocate who deserves this recognition? Let us know! Email Elizabeth Kwasnik at firstname.lastname@example.org.