HANOVER — For Caroline Gillig, who was born with an intellectual disability, a hug can go a long way.
And she gets plenty of them at the Cardinal Cushing Centers in Hanover. Caroline’s mother, Pamela, enrolled her at Cushing seven years ago, and she has blossomed since, now 22 years old.
“It’s given Caroline the ability to make friends and be exposed to different environments,” Pamela told WBZ-TV.
That’s what the Cushing Centers do — change the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. It all started in 1947, when Richard Cardinal Cushing purchased 175 acres of land in Hanover, with the purpose of building a school for what he referred to as “exceptional children,” or kids with special needs. Now, it’s a sprawling organization serving hundreds of children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The staff of about 600 work tirelessly to help the students learn and grow.
That’s why Pamela wanted to thank the staff with ice cream donated by Hornstra Farms in Norwell. She nominated the Cushing Centers for the WBZ Ice Cream Social, a summer-long party to recognize great organizations in our communities.
“Our community here is spectacular,” says Cushing’s president and CEO Michelle Markowitz.
The Centers has now opened a cafe and thrift shop at the Cushing Marketplace in Hanover. Students here can learn job and social skills.
“We have some incredibly talented folks that we support and to give them this opportunity — it helps prepare them for a job in the community maybe at a restaurant or retail store,” Markowitz says.
And that includes Caroline, who now volunteers at the thrift shop. That’s sweet news for her proud mother.
“To have this, it’s just like having a second family,” she said.
You can learn more about the Cushing Centers here.