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Guests Show Their Support of the Durkin Foundation

October 4, 2018

Durkin Foundation Co-Chair Dan Durkin of Tyngsboro, left, and his son, Executive Director Matt Durkin, of Boston. SUN PHOTO/ Dacey Zouzas Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

DRACUT-- Those with Alzheimer’s can benefit from a variety of treatments, but when you hear someone who hasn’t talked in years begin to sing, then you know you’ve hit a special chord.

It is this type of help that the Durkin Foundation is vowing to deliver.

The foundation will work to assist those with Alzheimer’s disease, other intellectual disabilities, and veterans by providing education, services, and daily assistance to improve quality of life

The Durkin Foundation’s recent inaugural fundraising gala at Lenzi’s in Dracut hosted a guest list that read like a veritable who’s who of the Greater Lowell community. And they all knew that Executive Director Matt Durkin and his family would bring this level of help to those who need it.

But the guests didn’t just say it; they showed it.

Durkin had an initial fundraising goal of $300,000 for this year and, with $54,000 already raised from their 2018 Boston Marathon fundraising effort, that seemed attainable. But he’s going to have come up with a new goal.

Only a day or so after the gala, Durkin was happy to report that the group raised roughly $375,000 Thursday night, easily blowing away his initial goal.

“This past year was a really humbling experience. Our friends, co-workers, business partners and others really went to bat for us,” said Durkin. “This foundation touches many people because there are very few who aren’t touched by one of these diseases. It was a really great kick off and we’re really looking to a second.”

Those at the D’Youville Life and Wellness Community in Lowell, one of the initial organizations that is benefiting from the newly-found Durkin Foundation, can confirm how much good these additional funds can do for their therapy, which has one program that lessens suffering through music.

“Music really reaches them. It taps into some great emotional centers. Sometimes you have people who can’t talk anymore but they can still sing songs of their childhood,” said Lisa Sobhian, D’Youville’s director of dementia services.

And as he hosted many leaders of the Greater Lowell community Thursday night at Lenzi’s in Dracut, Durkin could safely say that they have already begun to make a difference.

“Their generous support has allowed me to have more hours of music therapy. Which is fantastic because music really affects an area of the brain that is still intact until very, very late in in the disease,” said Sohbian.

The gala guest list, which included over 350 people, consisted of mayors, city councilors, business leaders and others like UMass President Marty Meehan, Rep. David Nangle, and City Manager Eileen Donoghue.

The Durkin family has dealt with a lot of hardship over the years and has had many family members with the diseases that Matt Durkin is vowing to help with funds raised through the Durkin Foundation.

His aunt Patty Durkin, who passed away in 2011, suffered from Down syndrome and his grandmother Claire Durkin, who passed away in 2016, had Alzheimer’s. And Claire, as well as his grandfather Brendan, benefited from the services at D’Youville.

Durkin wanted to stress the fact none of the funds will be used toward the non-profit’s administrative expenses. He said that 100 percent of the funds raised will go toward to causes and said even his salary as executive director will be covered by the Durkin Company, the family business that operates in the janitorial supplies industry.

“I wanna congratulate the Durkin Family,” said Meehan. “I think this is a foundation worth investing in and I know that, moving forward, this foundation will change people’s lives for the better.”

Nangle has known the Durkin family intimately for many years and told some humorous stories. One of his stories included a young Meehan coming to the Durkin household with a basketball and dirty sneakers looking to raid the household fridge. It got a big laugh from the crowd.

With this intimate knowledge, Nangle also knew how meaningful this cause is to the Durkin family, and how it will touch the families that really need help.

“This foundation was born out of respect and appreciation for service, sacrifice and lessons learned from their parents,” said Nangle. “The working class neighborhoods of Lowell are full of families you would help and families that would not hesitate to help you as well.”

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