Fred Trapassi, Jr
Vice President of Rhode Island ProgrammingNew England“The greatest challenge we face, and at the same time the greatest satisfaction we receive, comes from helping others realize a greater self-worth and find purpose in their lives.”
Fred Trapassi, Jr., has worked in the human services field since 1986, serving people in need and helping youth and adults who are struggling with substance abuse. Fred has a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Roger Williams College and has received local and national awards for his dedication to his community and the field of juvenile justice.
When Fred was growing up, he witnessed drug addiction in his neighborhood and knew several friends who died from drug overdoses and gun violence. He decided to work in the field of human services so that he could address some of the problems in his own community and help those who were underserved: “I always hated to see people taken advantage of. I always hated to see people who were pushed down and held back, and I always felt that people deserve a fair shake.”
Through Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), he started out as a street outreach worker with the Travelers Aid Society of Rhode Island, doing outreach to people with drug addictions and helping runaway youth. He became director of youth services and worked with a program that took in non-violent adolescents who were arrested, so youth didn’t have to be held in adult cell blocks.
In his work with Travelers Aid Society (now Crossroads Rhode Island), Fred saw the poverty caused by drug abuse. Seeking to continue his work in the human services field, Fred joined Phoenix House in 2000 as director of Phoenix House Academy in Pascoag, Rhode Island, and as senior program director for adolescent services in the New England region. During his time at Phoenix House, Fred has also served as privacy officer and as vice president and senior program director of Rhode Island programming. As senior program director, he oversees programs along the continuum of care, from detoxification to residential to a shelter program to recovery housing and aftercare.
Fred is also active in the Rhode Island treatment community and has served as an advisory committee member on the Rhode Island Justice Commission, a member of the Governor’s Commission on Behavioral Health Care, and on the Providence and Scituate Juvenile Hearing Boards. He serves as president of the Board of the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Association.
Since Fred lives in a small state and has worked in the field for years, he often sees people who have gone through treatment at Phoenix House. “It always amazes me the number of people who will come up to me and say hello and willingly begin to talk about how Phoenix House helped them,” he says. “They’ll go out of their way to express their appreciation.”
Fred says hearing those stories motivates him to keep providing help for those who are struggling with addiction: “Giving people the opportunity to change, to start a new journey, a more positive journey, a healthier journey–that’s the single biggest thing that keeps me going.”