Donna has been a part of the health center movement from the very beginning.

Now, she’s helping make sure it continues to blossom in Lowell.

Donna Besecker first became acquainted with the community health center movement back in the 1960s.

“I was a social worker just out of college, working for an agency whose clients received their health care at the Columbia Point Community Health Center (one of the first 2 CHC’s in the nation, now called Harbor Health),” she recalls. “You could see firsthand the benefits when people who had no insurance or were under-insured could access quality health care.”

Fast forward to today, and Donna remains a community health center champion (and we’re pretty sure she’s just as energetic as she was back in the ’60’s!). We’re fortunate that, after moving here with her husband in 2012, Donna connected with Lowell CHC – and in particular with our Teen BLOCK program.

Teen BLOCK is a free after-school and summer youth program focusing on leadership development, civic engagement, and making healthy choices. A key component of Teen BLOCK is that the young people actually lead the way when it comes to programming. It’s funded entirely by grants and private donations.

“I happened to attend the Health Center’s Winter Mixer a few years ago, which is a fundraiser for Teen BLOCK, and I had the chance to meet the staff and some of the teens in the program,” Donna recalls.

“We so often say that we empower youth, but what became clear to me was that these kids felt empowered – without ever using the word. I was hooked.”

Donna’s passion for Lowell CHC goes beyond Teen BLOCK: “Health Centers are a social justice movement, and it’s clear that mission permeates Lowell CHC.”

Pointing to our lobby, with the word “welcome” carved in dozens of different languages on our Welcome Wall, and the fact that so many employees come from the diverse communities we serve, she adds, “You can’t help but see that this is not a cookie cutter approach to health care.”

Thanks to Donna’s energy, enthusiasm, and support, we will continue to make sure each patient gets exactly the care they need – regardless of ability to pay.

“I firmly believe that if the Health Center weren’t here there would be a whole bunch of people who wouldn’t be able to access health care.”