By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Region – Greater Marlboro Programs Inc. (GMPI) was founded in 1973 by a few Metrowest families seeking social and recreational programs for their children with developmental disabilities. Celebrating its 40th year, GMPI now serves over 300 families with children and adults in Hudson, Marlborough, Northborough, Southborough, Westborough, and other Metrowest communities.
Carol Manne joined the staff in 2006 as executive director.
“These families with developmentally disabled children got together for activities that they could do together,” she said. “Now, we try to integrate our folks” activities with everybody else.”
GMPI currently offers a monthly calendar filled with various activities such as bowling, track and field, and trips to a movie theater. Members of the Marlborough Eagles Aerie #3565 prepare and serve them a monthly dinner. GMPI also sponsors sports teams that participate in the Special Olympics. Some volunteers have coached for over 20 years.
In addition to these activities, Manne felt overnight getaways would be valuable. Several years ago, GMPI started organizing an annual structured vacation. They recently took a four-day trip to Red Jacket Resort in North Conway, N.H.
“Fifty-five of our folks and chaperones just got back and they had a terrific time,” Manne said. “The hotel staff and guests were so excited to be with our folks. They joined in with the karaoke, the dancing and everything. It gives our folks the opportunity to be around their peers, develop new relationships, and get away from their everyday life, just like everybody else does.”
Past vacations have included a visit to Washington, D.C., and several cruises to destinations such as Canada and Bermuda.
“The folks save their money during the year and pay for the majority of these trips,” Manne said. “We do have scholarships for some of them who can's afford it, so that everybody has the opportunity to enjoy these trips.”
GMPI also offers residential services. They now have four homes in Marlborough neighborhoods with over 40 residents. Each home is staffed 24 hours daily with funds provided by the Department of Developmental Services. Some individuals have their own apartment and receive several hours of support weekly from GMPI.
“Depending on the person's individual needs, they could get anywhere from five to 10 hours of support from us,” Manne said. “That could entail help with budgeting, menu planning, food shopping, banking and doctor's appointments.”
Manne is grateful for her staff's support and accomplishments within the time she has been directing the agency.
“With an exceptional staff and financial management, we'se been able to do quite a bit,” she said. “Besides the vacations, we purchased a new home a couple of years ago for five young men. We'se upgrading our homes all the time. Over the past seven years, we'se improved a great deal.”
The organization's biggest fundraiser is the Jim Forrest Memorial Road Race. The 29th annual race will be held Sunday, Sept 23, beginning and ending at Wayside Racquet and Swim Club in Marlborough.
To celebrate GMPI's 40th anniversary, a new fundraiser will feature a matinee movie screening Sunday, Oct. 6, at the historic Strand Theatre in Clinton.
“As we'se celebrating 40 years, we'se trying to be out there and exposed as much as possible so that people get to know us more,” Manne said. “The more people can get to learn what we'se all about and meet our folks, the better it is for us and for the community. I's very proud to be a part of this wonderful agency and working with a fantastic team.”
For more information, visit gmpinc.org.