Governor, Tingle to take the stage for Link House

Courtesy photoComedian Jimmy Tingle emcees the Link House Inc. fundraiser Thursday night. 

NEWBURYPORT — Gov. Charlie Baker will join comedian Jimmy Tingle and a former New Hampshire Supreme Court chief justice as three of the guest speakers when the Link House Inc. presents its first Links of Hope Gala on Thursday.

Gary Gastman, the executive director of Link House, said he looks forward to hearing from the governor Thursday evening at the event at the Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury.

“We are very excited,” Gastman said. “Who do we get next year?”

Gastman said he invited the governor to attend the event and give the opening remarks about what his administration is doing when it comes to drug addiction in the state.

John Broderick, the former New Hampshire chief justice, will serve as the keynote speaker and is expected to share his story of mental health and addiction. Tingle will be the emcee and auctioneer for the fundraiser.

Tingle said he has more than 30 years of experience with the recovery community and is looking forward to sharing top billing with Baker.

“This is going to be great, I’m really glad (Baker) is able to come,” Tingle said. “It is good when people in authority can actually continue to work on behalf of these issues, allocating funds and raising awareness, giving the issue the credibility and attention it deserves.”

The Link House has helped more than 5,000 people on their paths to recovery from substance use disorders after starting in a single sober house on Washington Street in Newburyport in 1972.

“We have been around for 48 years, almost 50 years,” Gastman said. “I don’t know how many other businesses within the community have been around that long other than banks and insurance companies.”

The private, nonprofit organization has grown substantially over the years and now provides residential substance abuse treatment in four locations in Newburyport, Amesbury and Salisbury.

“We now provide 105 beds, so we are essentially a bed-based program,” Gastman said. “We are the only substance abuse treatment provider in our immediate area. So, we feel a responsibility to provide services to the community.”

Tingle recently took a tour of Link House and liked what he saw.

“What a wonderful place,” he said. “They are just doing fantastic work. It is a groundbreaking organization and the residents couldn’t have been more enthusiastic. They have community buy in, they help the community and are in the community. It is also a community that is very supportive of them.”

Gastman said the Link House will open two new facilities soon, the first being a center for addiction treatment and behavioral health services in Amesbury’s Boston North Technology Park.

“That will have four components,” he said. “There will be outpatient, counseling and medication management services, primarily for the MassHealth population. The second component will be a recovery coach service, the third component is prevention and advocacy and the fourth component is a training department for professional training services.”

The second initiative will be a 14-bed women’s sober house located near Anna Jaques Hospital.

“This will be for women furthering their goals in recovery,” Gastman said. “It will be communal living with a lot of independent but shared living.”

The Link House was well known for hosting its annual St. Patrick’s Day luncheon in the past but is now looking to broaden its appeal, according to Gastman.

“We are trying to reach a larger audience and raise more funds for the agency,” he said. “So, by putting this in a gala format, we have gone from maybe 120 people to over 400 guests coming. So, this is a bigger venue and a broader opportunity for us to spread our message.”

Newburyport Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Frank Cousins Jr. will also be on hand Thursday to accept the first Nicholas Costello Recovery Award.

“We wanted to honor Nick’s contribution to the community,” Gastman said.

Tickets are $75 per person. For more information, go to linkhouseinc.org

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