Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cardinal Cushing Centers Networking Event

We had over 100 people at the Networking Event held at the House of Blues Foundation Room on May 19th!  The evening was amazing, bringing young professionals  from all sectors, and some of our graduates, to forge new relationships with Cushing and each other.

In the coming weeks, we will be identifying needs for a service event in the late Summer/early Fall because so many of these wonderful people want to learn more about our work. 

We thank all of you for sharing your time, talents and treasures with Cardinal Cushing CentersSpecial thanks to Nikki DiGuilio, Hadley Harris, Dave Kartunen, Laurie Maranian and the House of Blues Foundation Room. We are most grateful! 

Enjoy these pictures of a great evening and let us know if you want to get involved.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cardinal Cushing Centers in the News

Check out the links below to see fabulous pictures of a successful car wash in Hanover.

Four students graduate from St. Coletta Day School in Braintree - Brockton, MA - The Enterprise

Four students graduate from St. Coletta Day School in Braintree - Brockton, MA - The Enterprise

Posted using ShareThis

By Kristen Walsh
Posted May 22, 2010 @ 07:58 PM
Last update May 23, 2010 @ 02:02 PM
From the moment the graduates marched into the auditorium on Saturday, dressed in their caps and gowns and accompanied by family members to guide them, the pride was evident on their faces.
It was also clearly a day long in the making. The four graduates of St. Coletta’s, all 22-years-old, completed the school’s program for people ages 6 to 22 with special needs. One of the graduates attended the school for 14 years.
The traditional graduation advice was given with a slight twist. Jo Ann Simons, president and CEO of St. Coletta and Cardinal Cushing Schools of Massachusetts, encouraged graduates to love their friends, listen to their family, always call if they are going to be late, and never forget gloves in winter.
“While it was our job to teach and guide you, it was also our job to learn from you. You have been our teachers,” Simons told them.
Commencement speaker Nicholas Santacroce, a faculty member of the school, recalled stories having faith in himself, the graduates, and the gift of special education for everyone involved.
“If we look beyond the physical, emotional, and mental disabilities, we can see the very essence of their souls,” Santacroce said. “There is joy, laughter, honesty, innocence and love in their souls.”
All of those traits were clear when each name was called and the graduates were brought on stage to receive their certificates. They smiled from ear to ear, clapped for themselves and each other along with the audience, and for some, basked in the moment, not wanting to leave the stage.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sometimes Something on YouTube Needs to Be Watched
This inspiring video, about the abilities of a young man and his father, is my early Father's Day gift to all the fathers out there. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

From ADDP-Many Disabled will be Homeless & Jobless Under SWM Budget

Brick WallIs this the Record Senators wish to run on for re-election? 
Hundreds of letters have been sent to Senators by people with disabilities, their families and advocates pleading to not make people with disabilities homeless and jobless.
Individual Senators have written back, saying: "I will work hard to see that people with disabilities are a high priority in the FY 2011 budget."
Despite these assurances, the Senate Ways & Means budget will make 86 to 100 people currently living in group homes lose their homes.
Despite these assurances, the Senate Ways & Means budget will make up to 700 people lose their jobs funded through Developmental Disabilities & Mass Rehab Council budgets.
The Senate Ways & Means budget has not been debated in public. 
Senators who support community services for people with disabilities will offer a series of amendments to the Senate budget next week.
The Senate may either address our concerns in a "consolidated amendment", not featuring a debate on our amendments by either granting our requests or ignoring them, or they may allow a discussion and voice vote on our amendments, or they may conduct a formal roll call vote on our amendments.
ADDP, The Arc, MFOFC will be sitting in the Senate Gallery every day of the Senate debate to witness whether the Senators hold a full and public debate on our issues and whether Senators will deliver on their private assurances of support for disability programs.
We will report to our thousands of supporters who will ask their legislators this week and during the election where they stood when the disability community cried out for help. 
We will be asking legislators to explain how they can accept $4 Billion dollars in Enhanced Medicaid intended for health and human service programs and then cut the programs for which these dollars are intended to help preserve?
Please attend the Senate Debate on the FY 11 Budget

ADDP, The Arc of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change, and our other disability allies will be attending each session of the Senate's debate on passing the FY 2011 budget.

If you can attend the Senate debate, please note which day you can attend and the time period in which you can be present.  Please send this information to Oanh Bui at
Senate Budget Debate will be held:
Monday, May 24 (if the Senate decides to move early)Tuesday, May 25Wednesday, May 26Thursday, May 27Friday, May 28 (if needed)

Please let Oanh know if you can attend in the morning, afternoon or evening.

If we are present for the Senate budget debate, perhaps our hope will not be in vain.
ADDP Budget Restoration Priorities
    Iconic HOPE
  1. Residential Services, Line Item 5920-2000:  Restore $6 million to prevent 100 people from losing their current homes.
  2. Day and Employment Programs, Line Item 5920-2025:  Restore $7 million so 45o people will keep their jobs and day services.
  3. Family Support, Line Item 5920-3000: Restore $1.5 million so individuals with disabilities and their families can receive in-home supports.
  4. MRC Brain Injury Services Line Item 4120-6000 underfunded by $2 million reducing community supports for 95 people currently receiving service.  The Brain & Head Injury trust fund has been declining in receipts and will force severe program reductions for people currently in residential and employment programs.
  5. MRC EEP Line Item 4120-3000, 300 people will lose service unless this line receives an additional $1.5 million.  This program serves people with multiple disabilities.
The Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers consists of 128 community organizations from across Massachusetts that provide services and supports to thousands people with developmental disabilities, or traumatic brain injuries. The membership of the Association hold more than 90 percent of the Department of Developmental Services community residential, day and family support contracts. Members also provide Medicaid-funded day habilitation services and Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission-funded supports. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cardinal Cushing Staff Lead Efforts for Orphanage in Haiti

C:\Documents and Settings\HP_Owner.YOUR-D0F670B45A\My Documents\My Pictures\Picture 074.jpg
New life, new hope, new future     
       An Orphanage for Haitian children that tends to their basic needs while providing education for a brighter tomorrow.
Please sponsor a child with a commitment of $25 each month. If not,
a onetime donation in any amount is also greatly appreciated.
Donation can be made online or sent to:
Angels voice orphanage @
Central Baptist Church
67 Washington St
P.O. Box 427
Quincy, MA 02169

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tune in tomorrow night to watch ABC’s What Would You Do, airing at 10:00 p.m. (EST).

Will anyone sound the whistle when they see two commercial pilots drinking heavily at an airport bar? Who will stand up for a bagger at a grocery store with special needs being harassed by an ignorant customer?  Using hidden cameras, “What Would You Do?” sets up everyday scenarios and then captures people's reactions.  Whether people are compelled to act or mind their own business, John Quiñones reports on their split-second and often surprising decision-making process, on a special edition of “Primetime: What Would You Do?” airingWEDNESDAY, MAY 19 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on ABC.

    This series shows what people actually do in the face of everyday dilemmas that test their character and values. Tomorrow's scenarios include: 
· SPECIAL NEEDS – SPECIAL TREATMENT: People with intellectual disabilities have more professional opportunities than ever before, but they still face ignorance and even bigotry. Working in cooperation with the National Down Syndrome Society, an actor with Down syndrome poses as a bagger in a grocery store. But it doesn’t take long for an ignorant customer – also an actor – to start protesting. “What’s the matter with you? Are you retarded?” he complains. Will unwitting observers, waiting their turn at the cashier, take a stand against this abuse or will they ignore it? 

'Great Story' of People With Down Syndrome Two Agencies Work Together to Squash Marginalizing Myths Published: May 17, 2010

Yesterday, May 17th and the day this story was published was my son with Down syndrome's 31st birthday. One of these days, I will tell you about his great story... 

By Tom Cook

When we first accepted the opportunity to develop a public awareness campaign for the National Down Syndrome Society, it was a collective desire to help out, to take a breather from sweating brands to maybe building something more inwardly satisfying. We knew little about Down syndrome and those who had it, no more than the average person out there. Little did we know it was going to become very personal, very fast.

Spend some time with a self-advocate, and you'll feel a change coming over you. People with Down syndrome are funny. They fall in love. They have jobs and careers. Talk to them for a bit, and you'll see they have day-to-day problems, dreams and things they don't like to do. In fact, they are just like me and you.
Oh, and one other thing: Some of them have great stories.
This is where it started to get personal for our companies. Both agencies think it's important to get involved in pro bono efforts. Our people like it, our other clients appreciate it and, frankly, pro bono clients usually give agencies more creative freedom. So mixed with the altruism is also a good dose of business sense. We jumped into the "My Great Story" campaign with full enthusiasm, looking forward to meeting the self-advocates.
For example, take Sujeet Desai. Featured as "The Traveler" in one of the "My Great Story" PSA print ads, he has traveled the world performing on the clarinet and six other instruments, acquiring admiring fans. Like the PSA says, he's performed in front of an audience of thousands and has been honored by the prime minister of Singapore.
You tell his family that his life is not worthwhile, that he's not making a difference.
Then there's Sara Wolf, who is featured as "The Public Speaker" in the other PSA print ad. She loves talking in front of kids, young adults, seniors and whoever else will listen about how much she loves her life and how Down syndrome has never stopped her from reaching her goals. She's spoken in front big-time audiences, even on stage at New York's Waldorf Astoria alongside Barbara Walters.
That's just two stories—and we didn't have to dig too deeply to see there were thousands more.
These weren't people to be marginalized and ignored—they were people to be celebrated and included in our world. Theirs were stories that needed to be told, and we were lucky to be chosen to tell them.
As Mike Pedone, president of Pedone put it, "Nothing was going to stop us now. We had a chance to change the minds of an entire country—what ad guy wouldn't leap at the chance?"
So the "My Great Story" public awareness campaign was born. York & Chapel set to work redoing the society's website and building a community site that would allow families to tell and share all their stories. York expanded the idea online to Facebook and MySpace, while Pedone commissioned a photographer and production company to shoot and document the campaign.
If you have the opportunity, take a look at the print ads. It was a day of monkeys, exotic backdrops and a lot of laughter.
Six months after the campaign's launch, the stories of Sujeet and Sara have been viewed by more than 100 million people in media outlets such as Allure, American Way, Condé Nast Traveler, Continental Magazine, CNN Airport Network, Fortune, Glamour, Golf Digest, Lucky, Newsweek, SELF, Time, USA Today, Vogue and Wired. To date, more than $3.5 million in ad space and services has been donated in support.
Dave Ho, the president of York & Chapel, calls the "My Great Story" campaign one of the most gratifying and satisfying projects he's ever worked on. And as the guy who got to interview both Sujeet and Sara and watched with respect as they struck their poses during the shoot, I couldn't agree more.
Keep an ear out for Sujeet and Sara—their stories aren't nearly done. Not by half.  

Monday, May 17, 2010

Graduation Season Brings New Hurdles for Families of Students with Intellectual Disabilities Most parents unprepared when children age out of the special education system

Boston….. May 18 2010   Along with three million students graduating from high school this June are another 500,000 young adults aging out of the special education programs which, since 1975, have assured children with disabilities an appropriate free public education up to the age of 21.  For the 300,000 of them with substantial intellectual disabilties, graduating from the safety net of integrated services in the school setting shifts the task of structuring a productive life for the disabled to parents who are often unprepared for the complexity of the task, according to Jo Ann Simons, president of the National Down Syndrome Society and CEO of the Cardinal Cushing Centers, Inc.  Ms. Simons, author of the new Down Syndrome Transition Handbook, says that planning for this moment should begin at least five years before the child graduates from special education.

“People with intellectual disabilities rarely make enough money to sustain themselves, if they can even hold a job,” says Ms. Simons. “ There is no guarantee that what the person with disabilities needs will be available.  Parents have to assemble a patchwork of discretionary public and private resources to enable a young adult to have a meaningful and safe life.”

Envisioning and planning the child’s next 30 or 40 years is overwhelming; that is why the planning should begin early in manageable chunks and involve the child.  Ms. Simons' new book is the first to itemize all the elements for parents to consider, as well as the pros and cons of various options and means of support.  “The planning must begin early in high school when deciding what course of study your child will pursue, and continue from there,” advises Ms. Simons.

“If you are wealthy, you only need half the advice, “ says Ms. Simons, herself the mother of a 31 year old son with Down syndrome. The book addresses financial issues as well as housing, health care, legal, employment, and personal/social issues and presents an array of options.  There’s no one right approach, she says.  Decisions depend on what works for each person and each family.

Housing is one example. Where will the disabled adult live?  If not with parents, who should own the house.  If a social services agency owns a home, the agency decides about roommates; if parents own and lease back the home, they have some control of roommates.   Should the disabled adult have a guardian? Many years have been spent educating the child to make decisions; should the right to make decisions be foreclosed?

Ms. Simons says that while the book was written to encompass the special medical issues of people with Down syndrome, all the non-medical issues raised in the book are applicable to parents of all children with intellectual disabilities.

Billions of dollars have been spent on special education so that children with disabilities can be as productive as possible.  This book helps parents leverage that investment over the rest of their child’s life. 

Note:  The book is the culmination of the author's professional and personal experiences guiding hundreds of families with an intellectually disabled child through the transition process, and parenting her own son with Down syndrome, now an adult living independently.  Its conversational style reassures parents overwhelmed by a complex process and its frank advice offers a reality check for parents whose child will soon venture into the adult world, or whose adult child has yet to leave the nest.

 The Down Syndrome Transition Handbook outlines the steps of transitioning.

It addresses broad issues such as meaningful ways to fill one's days (work, volunteering, leisure activities, training and education, exercise), transportation (driving vs. using public transportation), independent living, eligibility for benefits, social and sexual activity, and legal issues.

About the Author:  Jo Ann Simons, M.S.W., is CEO of the Cardinal Cushing Centers of Massachusetts, a residential learning center.  She is Chair of the National Down Syndrome Society and of LIFE, Inc. on Cape Cod.  In addition, she served as the President of the National Down Syndrome Congress and on the Board of Special Olympics, Inc., and was a founder of the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress. She and her husband live in Swampscott, Massachusetts. They have two adult children.

Down Syndrome Transition Handbook
Pub. Date: March 2010    *    Publisher: Woodbine House
Paperback, 375 pp.     *     ISBN-13: 9781890627874
Cost: $24.95


For review copies, contact  Fran Marinaccio, Woodbine House,  301-897-3570, email

interview requests to 
Jo Ann Simons
(781) 829-1200

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Congratulations to Our Margaret Lelakes

Margaret Lelakes, Cushing Centers Director of Volunteer Services, pictured with CEO Sig Kozaryn, after she received the Department of Developmental Services Having Fun/Enriching Lives Award at a ceremony held in April. Honored for her long-time commitment to the individuals we serve, Margaret has the unique responsibility of recruiting, training, and matching volunteers who live in the South Shore/Plymouth Area and beyond to positions throughout the organization. She is the person who inspires members of the community--from Church group members to retired senior citizens, from business people to high school students--to share their time, energy, knowledge, and compassion. We join DDS in congratulating Margaret!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Special Olympics athletes show off their motor skills at annual St. Coletta’s event

Everyone was a winner Friday at St. Coletta’s Day School, as more than 40 Special Olympics athletes showed off their motor skills in the school’s gymnasium.
“Everybody enjoyed the day,” said St. Coletta’s director of education Ron Shepherd. “Students are being recognized for the skills they have. The staff and the students worked hard and it’s a lot of fun.”
Shepherd, who has been with the school for 22 years, said this is the 15th consecutive year St. Coletta’s has hosted Motor Activities Day, which consistently draws 40 to 60 participants.
This year, students from Brockton and Quincy schools joined others from St. Coletta’s, a Braintree school for special-needs students.
“These are the foundation skills,” Shepherd said. “Hopefully they can move on to more traditional sports someday.”
For the event, St. Coletta’s teams with Special Olympics, which brings medals and banners. Volunteers from the Special Olympics Adult Program also work with teachers at each station to make sure everything goes smoothly.
The gymnasium was sectioned into four activity stations, which focused on the athletes’ hand-eye coordination, visual perception and body awareness. The stations included variations of sports such as baseball, bowling and high jump, and one had bubble blowing.
At the end of the event, each participant received a gold medal.
Meanwhile, those on the sidelines also got a kick out of the festivities.
“The biggest kick I get is watching good teachers,” Shepherd said. “They really get a chance to enjoy it.”
Katy Fitzpatrick may be reached at

"Monica and David" won best documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival

Check out the winner of the best documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival.
It is a beautiful story of love, committment and marriage of a man and a woman who have Down syndrome.