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BOSTON – The Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women will recognize Catherine Sugarman of Holliston with its 2020 Commonwealth Heroines Award on Wednesday, June 24.

Senate President Karen E. Spilka recommended Sugarman for this award because of her outstanding efforts in the area of substance use disorder, through her position as Prevention and Outreach Program Manager for the Town of Natick’s Department of Public Health. 

Sugarman will be honored with the other Commonwealth Heroines for her outstanding contributions to her community.

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“As part of my focus on ending the stigma around mental-health issues, I have been very impressed by the impact of Katie’s work,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “Not only has she changed the lives of those coping with substance use, but she has led the region by creating programs that have served as models of innovation and collaboration for other organizations in the Commonwealth.”

In her position with the Natick Health Department, Sugarman coordinates the Natick Opioid Task Force. Her collaborative approach to problem-solving spurred the merger of several community substance use prevention efforts to form the Natick 180 Coalition. 

Considered an innovative problem-solver, she has created some of the region’s first grief recovery support groups and the first vigils that brought the opioid issue into the open.

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In 2018, realizing that NARCAN was not available to many professionals, including social workers, she launched a distribution program that established MetroWest as the Commonwealth’s first region to distribute NARCAN through public health departments. 

Sugarman and other awardees will be recognized during the 17th Annual Commonwealth Heroines Award ceremony, which will take place virtually on Wednesday June 24. A slide show presentation will be shared on the Commission’s social media platforms. 

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Other recipients of the 2020 Commonwealth Heroine Award, who also reside in the Second Middlesex and Norfolk District, are:  Rhonda Garvin Conaway and Jennifer Marini D’Antonio of Natick (nominated by Rep. David Linsky); Dr. Sarah Hamerla, Framingham (Rep. Maria Robinson); Meena Kaushik, Hopkinton (Rep. Carolyn Dykema); Lynn Strider, Franklin (Rep. Jeff Roy) and Donna Wresinski, Framingham (Rep. Jack Lewis).

The Commonwealth Heroines are women who don’t make the news but make the difference. Thousands of women in every community of the state perform unheralded acts on a daily basis that make our homes, neighborhoods, cities, and towns better places to live. Commonwealth Heroines use their time, talent, spirit, and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others in their community. They are mentors, volunteers, and innovators who strive to protect and represent the interests of seniors, victims of violence, children, immigrants, and other vulnerable populations.

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This event is made possible with the support of Eastern Bank, Eversource and Flour Bakery. 

The Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women is an independent state agency that was legislatively created in 1998 to advance women of the Commonwealth to full equality in all areas of life and to promote their rights and opportunities. The Commission provides a permanent, effective voice for the women of Massachusetts.  

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By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.