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Cushing Community News: Winter 2014 Edition


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A Message from President & CEO: Jo Ann Simons

Jo Ann Simons

When I first stepped onto our grounds as the President & CEO of Cardinal Cushing Centers in 2008, I had a mission and a vision for the future. The Sisters of Saint Francis of Assisi created a safe, educational place where students and adults with intellectual disabilities truly thrive. I wanted to take this environment and bring the outside in, welcome the community around us to enjoy our resources, meet our students and adults, and interact with us in new and exciting ways that would benefit all parties involved.

We might not have been ready for that change six years ago, but today I am happy to report that we are making progress. This summer we welcomed well over 300 people to our campus for a community art festival, made possible by our collaboration with the South Shore YMCA and Friendship Home. We hosted an outdoor movie night and magic show in conjunction with the Town of Hanover, fun summer outings for local families who previously may not have had the opportunity to connect with CCC. Our rental numbers are increasing each quarter, with more and more community members hosting birthday parties, basketball practices and business after-hour events in our facilities.

We are taking the necessary steps to turn the centerpiece of my vision for the Hanover campus into a reality: the long-term lease of the Kennedy Building. In partnership with the Planning Office of Urban Affairs, this building will be transformed into 37 units of workforce housing with four units set aside for people with disabilities. We look forward to welcoming new residents to enjoy a cup of coffee in our Bass Café or to attend a future movie night with our students and adults.

And for Braintree news, I am so proud of our blossoming partnership with the Meeting House Montessori School, who is sharing space with the St. Coletta Day School students and staff. We have much to learn from each other.

More than just a bustling campus for people with intellectual challenges, Cardinal Cushing Centers will be a place where people of all walks of life will one day (soon) call “home.” Thank you for sharing in this vision. I look forward to seeing the rest of it unfold.


Jo Ann Simons
President & CEO


Summer Fun

Summer was a busy season for the Cushing community as we hosted several free summer events, bringing both community members and the individuals with intellectual disabilities we support together for some “fun in the sun!”

On July 10th we hosted Art is For Everyone, a community art festival organized in collaboration with the South Shore YMCA and FriendshipArt-is-for-Everyone Home, which roughly 300 people attended. Guests could participate in interactive stations to create their own piece of art to bring home, enjoy demonstrations from featured artists, and take in performances from the Cushing Dance Team, SSYMCA Performing Arts Group, and more!

On July 17th we partnered with Hanover Parks and Recreation to host an outdoor movie screening of Disney’s Frozen! Over 150 people from the community, as well as student and adult residents of Cardinal Cushing Centers, laughed together while watching the movie over popcorn, as well as ice cream treats from our friends at the Sugar Shack Ice Cream Truck! The crowd could be heard singing along during the movie’s mega-hit, Let It Go!

Magic-ShowJuly 24th brought aspiring magician John Logan to our community, where he performed for over 50 guests. With the help of audience members, John performed tricks that made coins disappear or correctly guessing a card his assistant was thinking of, and the crowd cheered throughout! Many were left thinking “How did he do that?” and couldn’t wait for more!

This summer we wanted to provide events that brought both the local communities and the Cushing community together to have fun and create new connections. We certainly wereOutdoor-Movie-Night able to do this, and we cannot wait to provide more free, memorable events in the future!


Braintree Happenings

Braintree2 The St. Coletta Day School has been undergoing some exciting new changes this summer.

Robert Renna was appointed the new Director of St. Coletta’s this past June and he has really hit the ground running. Bob has a long history in the field of special education which includes; Director of the LABB Collaborative in Lexington from 1977-2002, Director of Special Education and Student Services in West Boylston Public Schools from 2002-2012 and most recently, Bob was the Director of Community Programs at the Perkins School for the Blind for the past two years. Bob has published numerous journal articles on special education and counseling, and is author of the book entitled: Quality Inclusion. Bob has taught as an adjunct professor at Northeastern University and visiting professor at Boston College.Kelly-3

Since coming to Cardinal Cushing and St. Coletta’s, Bob has developed a new employment training model called Vocational Inclusion Pathways (VIP) which allows all students regardless of challenges to work in the community. He is also collaborating with the Meeting House Montessori School to design inclusive student activities facilitating their new partnership and shared facilities.

We have hired a new Clinical Case Manager, Technology Teacher, and Behavior Educator and have added more OT and PT services. Additionally, we are opening a new preschool classroom and will be ready to enroll students this fall.

Kelly Madeira has been hired as St. Coletta’s new preschool teacher. Kelly’s background includes being a lead teacher for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accredited program at Campus Kinder Haus of Eastern Nazarene College and most recently for Weymouth Public Schools. While working in Weymouth, Kelly was a first and second grade special educator of a substantially-separate district-wide program called the Intensive Resource Center (IRC). Kelly is excited to work with this age group again. “In the short time I have been over here at the St. Coletta Day School preparing for the school year, I cannot begin to tell you how welcoming and supportive the staff has been.”

Braintree1I am excited about the future of the St. Coletta Day School and I look forward to our continued collaboration with our staff, families and students on this new road to quality,” says Renna.“Our new strategic plan is centered within the concept of ‘One Program’. Our mission is to actively share creative experiences with both our Hanover campus and the Meeting House Montessori School.

Quality is a journey or change and improvement that never ends!”


Time Well Spent

Thrift1For Shirley May, Catherine Shea and Sandy Collingsridge, volunteering at Cushing’s Timeless Treasures Thrift Store in Hanover is time well spent. Whether they are talking with students, helping customers, or handling a task for store manager Francine Stark they always enjoy their shift.

“The atmosphere here is so nice and the people are wonderful,” says Shirley. “After my retirement, I wanted to give back and do something in the community. I am so happy I found this position at Cardinal Cushing Centers.”Thrift2

Catherine first visited Timeless Treasures when her sister was visiting from out of town and wanted to do some shopping. She didn’t realize the store was even there, but once she visited, she kept coming back. Shirley finally said, “Why don’t you volunteer?” Catherine loved the idea because she was going stir crazy after retiring from a career at the Nursing College in Boston.

Thrift3Sandy started out as a regular customer as well. She arrives each week and asks Francine, “How can I help you the most?” Sandy loves helping out and recalls a time that a staff person was taking a student to the pool to swim, but forgot a bathing suit that day. She scoured the racks until she found him the right size! She loves to make a difference and says “I get more out of it than they do.”

All three women agree that the students, customers and Francine are a big part of what makes the experience so fulfilling. There are many regulars who love to browse and see what they can find. As Catherine likes to say, “If you wait long enough, you will find what you are looking for.” It seems that is true for volunteering as well.



A Message from President & CEO: Jo Ann Simons

Jo Ann SimonsThere are various ways and much debate about the ways nonprofit organizations can and should measure their success. Do you simplify your mission to ensure that all goals are quantifiable? Do you invest dollars into procedures that will track your clients over several years to determine if your organization touched them in a way that had lasting impact? Do you examine the health of the organization itself by measuring staff retention, financial stability and demand for services?

These are all great ideas and I am all for measuring and quantifying the good work we do here at Cardinal Cushing Centers. But today I want to focus on a factor of our success that has an overall value and impact that is priceless: our partnerships.

We have been extremely fortunate to have developed transformational relationships with other organizations and companies over the years. Rockland Trust has sponsored a golf tournament that is in its 28th year. From the pool of golfers who play in this tournament, we recruited a talented runner and fund-raiser for our inaugural Boston Marathon team, Gabe Dutra. VERC Enterprises is a major supporter of ours, but they also provide jobs to our students and adults. These jobs create opportunities for greater independence and a fulfilling life. How do you put a value on that? Countless other individuals we support have competitive employment because we team up with the Best Buddies Jobs program and because we are proud to call BNY Mellon a partner. Thanks to the Bruins Foundation and Covidien, the entire Cushing community has the opportunity to be healthy and workout in our new fitness center. This is an invaluable contribution. Happy and healthy employees yields a more productive and positive work environment.

I could go on and on listing all the phenomenal partnerships that help make Cardinal Cushing Centers tick. But instead, I will end with some partners who recently made our annual Springtime Gala a huge success. To our 500 guests, our clothing designers and our top sponsors: Ted & Maureen English, NFP, BJ’s Charitable Foundation, BNY Mellon, Castaway LLC A Film Co., Century Bank, Hays Companies, Shields Health Care Group, and Voya Financial, thank you for your commitment to our mission. Because of you, and all of our partners, we will continue to change lives, hopefully for another 67 years.


Jo Ann Simons
President & CEO


The Value of “Springtime” Partnerships

To hold a gala with 500 guests, a silent auction, a live auction, a fashion show and an award ceremony is no small feat. To have it come together so well, and be successful in raising $450,000 to support individuals with intellectual disabilities is only due to the generous partners who make the night possible.

Members of the Host Committee and the Gala Committee were able to secure generous sponsors and fill all 50 tables in the ballroom. Great donors like TJX, PIOL, Sullivan Tire and many, many others made our live and silent auctions a success. Finally, for the highlight of the evening, our fashion show would not have been as vivid or dynamic if not for our partners who donated their apparel to our models. Special thanks to L.L. Bean, lululemon, TJX, Natales, PIOL and Talbots for making us look so stylish for our guests. If not for the power of partnership, our 50th annual Springtime gala would not have been possible. We thank you. To see highlights of the night, check out the video below:

We hope you enjoy this snapshot of the event!


New Partnerships with Meeting House Montessori School

Montessori1When one door closes, another opens- and sometimes even wider than you had anticipated. That sums up the union of Cardinal Cushing Centers and Meeting House Montessori School of Braintree. Meeting House Montessori will be renting space from Cushing and moving into its Braintree facility that currently houses the St. Coletta Day School.

“Both organizations are in the business of educating students and helping them be as independent as possible,” says Cushing President and CEO Jo Ann Simons. Montessori4

Steve Putnam, Educational Director of the Montessori School, shared Simons’ excitement over the deal, saying “Part of our mission is to prepare students for life and the social and community relationships they should be building with the people around them. This is another piece of the puzzle as we help students round out their development.”

The staffs of the two schools are discussing how to maximize the sharing of the space, resources, and, perhaps most importantly, the interaction between students. It is reasonable to expect that the older Montessori3Montessori students may be able to help their Cushing counterparts with academic and social activities. One thing is for certain, though: both students from both schools will certainly learn a lot from each other, and we couldn’t be more excited about this new partnership!






A Partnership for Fun: Bridget & Amy

At home with baby pictures Who doesn’t enjoy spending time with friends? Whether it is a trip to the mall, going out to Amy and Bridget going to promdinner or heading to the nail salon, we all have fun and fulfilling lives when we venture out with good friends. Adults with intellectual disabilities are no different.

For Amy Slater and Bridget Studley (affectionately called “Bee” by Amy) an excursion together means a fun time and the opportunity for each woman to use her strengths to help the other. Always ready to enjoy a good meal, when Amy and Bridget go out to a restaurant Bridget uses her reading skills to navigate the menu options while Amy’s math and number skills come in handy when it is time to pay the bill. Together they make a great team!

After living in the same group home for over 12 years, Amy and Bridget have shared many advenreading the menutures together and look forward to many more in the future. If they are taking a trip to Disney World or shopping for prom dresses, these two women always enjoy each other’s company. “I feel so happy” Bridget tells me at their most recent visit to Friendly’s.








A Message from President & CEO: Jo Ann Simons


Jo Ann SimonsCelebratory. This describes the past three months here at Cardinal Cushing Centers. December was a festive month, full of opportunities for us to gather as a community and share excitement for the holiday season. A yearly special treat is our celebration with Bob Sweeney and the Boston Bruins Foundation in Hanover, as well as a Bank of America sponsored holiday party that takes place on our Braintree campus. In January we celebrated the success of our Opportunity Fund campaign, realizing our goal of over $150,000 from 325 donors. We are grateful and appreciative to everyone who helped us achieve success.

We also celebrated our partnership with Best Buddies. On Tuesday, December 10th, Cardinal Cushing Centers proudly received the 2013 Champion of Inclusion Award at Best Buddies’ annual Evening of Opportunity. Over 300 guests gathered at the Seaport Hotel in Boston to celebrate the individuals employed through the Best Buddies Massachusetts Jobs Program as well as the employer partners who make inclusion in the workplace possible. Tedeschi Food Shops was also honored with the Employer of the Year award.

Supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities in their search for meaningful, paid employment opportunities is an integral part of our mission. As you will read in our newsletter, we have made great progress with a new employment program, made possible through the generosity of the Arthur F. Blanchard Trust via the BNY Mellon Charitable Giving Program.

To express just how integral employers are to our mission, we are planning for our annual April luncheon that honors our current employment partners. If you or someone you know would like more information on the benefits of hiring individuals with intellectual disabilities, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would be happy to start that conversation.


Jo Ann Simons
President & CEO


Introducing Our 2014 Marathon Team


CCC-Marathon-Logo-FINALCardinal Cushing Centers is pleased to announce the members of our inaugural 2014 Boston Marathon team: Tessa Casey of Duxbury, Jonathan Peck of Pembroke, Gabe Dutra of Hingham and our own employee, Rob Wheeler. Our mighty team has set a goal of raising $25,000 for Cardinal Cushing Centers.

Tessa is a parent of one of our adult residents, Matt Casey. Matt also participates in one of our day programs for adults, Life Opportunities Unlimited (LOU). Tessa is the owner of Sweet Sense.

Jonathan is the Regional Vice President of DTZ, Inc. and is a wonderful advocate for organizations that support individuals with disabilities.

Gabe is a Regional VP for Ridgeworth Investments. Ridgeworth has been an avid corporate sponsor of our organization for several years and Gabe is excited to become more personally involved with Cardinal Cushing Centers.

Rob, who works in our education department, was one of the finish line heroes during last year’s marathon. You can read more about his life saving efforts here:

If you would like to support our runners as they battle this artic winter we are having, visit:

To read more about our runners, check them out in the Hanover Mariner:


From L to R: Student Shawn H. of Seekonk, Jonathan Peck of Pembroke, student Cory M. of Marshfield, Tessa Casey of Duxbury, Kaitlin R. of Brockton, Gabe Dutra of Hingham and Coles P. of Randolph



Braintree St. Coletta Day School: A Place to Learn, Work & Play!



Alicia Fontes with Staff

The Braintree St. Coletta Day School, a school for students with physical and intellectual disabilities, is expanding its offerings to students.6photo While the School has always offered an educational curriculum, art therapy and adapted physical education, it is in the process of expanding its Music Therapy Program and Job Training Program. “We are continuously looking for ways to enhance our students’ experience at the St. Coletta Day School. By growing our music therapy program, we are giving students the opportunity to express themselves in a new way. Even better, we benefit from many generous funders as well as a donation from our friends at Zildjian. Without the support of our donors, program expansion would not be possible,” says Larry Sauer, Vice President of Student Programs and Services.


Jessica Doherty


Nicholas Pugsley

To help prepare students for the workforce, the St. Coletta Day School will increase its offering of job training opportunities to students ages 18-22. On its Braintree campus, students will manage a new Central Supply Program, a school and office supply management program including tasks such as tracking and ordering inventory as well as filling and delivering orders to staff. Students will also have the opportunity to travel to the Hanover Campus to work in the retail sites including the Bass Village Café and the Timeless Treasures Thrift Store. “Preparing our students for employment is such an important part of the work we do at Cardinal Cushing Centers,” states Jo Ann Simons, President and CEO. “The businesses that hire our students and adults appreciate the experience and positive attitude they bring to the workplace.”

To learn more about the Braintree St. Coletta Day School, please contact Michelle Markowitz, Vice President of Admissions at


Powering Potential through Job Opportunities

As we all know, having the right job for your interests, skills and personality is the key to finding happiness and fulfillment at work. Fortunately for Cardinal Cushing Centers, BNY Mellon understands this, and is willing to support our efforts to place young adults with intellectual disabilities in the jobs which suit them best.

Through a grant from BNY Mellon’s Charitable Giving Program and the Arthur F. Blanchard Trust, we have the resources to support our Intensive Employment Program and a part time staff person to work individually with 4 adult clients under the age of 30 to find the right job match.


Job Coach Alex Manorak with Nick Hanson
working on a job application

Brendan McGuirk, Employment Specialist at South Shore Industries, is particularly excited about this opportunity. “With this additional support, staff can now work at an individual level to help each person create a resume, draft a cover letter, apply for jobs, and practice interview techniques. Once hired, our clients will need additional supports to ensure success and the staff will be able to help them navigate challenges in the work place including transportation issues, social skills and requesting appropriate accommodations.”


Caroline Dane working hard at the Verc Mobil station

In Randolph, Caroline Dane is finding employment success at a Verc Mobil station. She enjoys her work which allows her to use her skills to keep the store gleaming. She dusts the shelves, cleans the glass cases and makes sure the doors are always shiny and welcoming to Verc’s customers. Caroline graduated from Cardinal Cushing Centers’ school and employment training program which helped prepare her for this opportunity.

As the program advances, Employment Specialists are working to find the right placements for additional clients. “We continue to build relationships with local businesses while developing the skills of our adult clients so that we can secure the right job for each person participating in this program. It is exciting to see where our adults will find the right opportunity” says Jean Rogers, Vice President of Community and Adult Services at Cardinal Cushing Centers.

If you are interested in learning more about employment opportunities at Cardinal Cushing Centers, contact Brendan McGuirk at 781-335-5601 or