By Joyce DeWallace, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Since 1973, Greater Marlboro Programs, Inc. (GMPI) has provided services to people with developmental disabilities and their families in the greater Marlborough and Metrowest area. Its mission is simple – to empower people with a sense of independence and accomplishment, build friendships through work and activities, and help find a comfortable and safe place to live.
One of the first programs GMPI developed was respite care, which takes individuals out of their homes and into the community and allows those clients to do all sorts of activities. GMPI also provides groups with social and recreational activities. Sports include basketball, swimming, track and field, bocce, softball, ice skating and skiing. Clients also have opportunities to vacation together on bus trips and cruises.
Respite staff worker Bob Begg has worked for GMPI for the past three years.
“I used to work at the Sunset Group Home in Marlborough; then I was a disc jockey for GMPI social events,” he explained. “I got to know individuals with disabilities, and applied for this job in 2011. Now it’s my main job, but I still DJ on the weekends. My clients feel good which makes me feel that I’ve accomplished something. It’s awesome.”
Begg goes into his client’s homes and guides them through daily living skills such as cooking and cleaning. He encourages them to exercise to improve both their bodies and minds. If a client is still living with their parents, Begg provides the other family members with the opportunity to vent their issues and concerns and gives them some relief from constant caregiving.
One of his clients is Wayne Larrabee, who was living in Framingham with his sister Wanda. She was referred to GMPI by the State Department of Developmental Services. Wayne went through the intake assessment process to determine his specific needs and has participated in the program for the past five years.
“Bob takes me out twice a week for two or three hours,” he said. “We go shopping at Walmart or the mall or grocery shopping. We go to the Special Olympics building in Marlborough, and I walk on the treadmill or play basketball. In the summer we go to Ghiloni Park. He takes me to my doctor’s appointments. I like going to the movies, and I like being with Bob.”
“When I first met Wayne, he was very quiet,” Begg said. “Now he’s out in the community and talks to everyone! Before [this program], Wayne stayed at home. Now he goes out on his own and has moved to independent living in Hudson. When he had transportation, he bagged groceries for Hannaford’s.”
“Transportation is always difficult, but it’s our signature program,” said Denise Vojackova-Karami, vice president of developmental services. “We provide transportation for social and recreational programs and even have rides for some people so they can work. Transportation is such a challenge for our population, especially those who reside independently in the community. They don’t have driver’s licenses and can’t afford cars. Taxis are too expensive.”
Nanette Goldstein, director of family and individual support noted, “Money is always an issue. The Department of Developmental Services funds us and refers clients to us. Donations make such a difference!”
GMPI was chosen through a very competitive process to receive a Cummings grant.
“We can offer more services for children and adults,” Vojackova-Karami said. “We do scholarships at times to clients who can’t afford some of the activities.”
“At this time of giving, we would so appreciate any contributions,” said Goldstein.
Checks can be sent to Greater Marlboro Programs, Inc., 65 Boston Road West, Suite 220, Marlborough, MA 01752 or donations may be made through the website, www.gmpinc.org.