Winter 2023-24

Lifeworks 70th Year Celebration: A Journey of Advocacy and Empowerment

Seventy years ago, a simple gathering around a kitchen table sparked a movement that would change lives. It was there, over cups of coffee and shared determination, that a group of parents came together to advocate for their children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. At that table, the organization we now call Lifeworks was born—an organization dedicated to championing the rights and opportunities of those who needed it most.

Since that humble beginning, Lifeworks has grown and evolved, expanding its reach and impact across communities. From the addition of new programs and services to the creation of vibrant activities and supports, our agency has remained steadfast in its commitment to serving individuals and families with unwavering dedication.

Today, Lifeworks stands as a beacon of hope and empowerment, touching the lives of over 2,400 individuals across a vast service area that stretches from Attleboro to Boston, encompassing all of Norfolk County and areas in the Metro-West. Our journey has been one of resilience, innovation, and above all, compassion.

As we embark on this milestone year, Lifeworks is excited to celebrate seven decades of achievements, milestones, and memories. We will seize every opportunity to shine a spotlight on our incredible community, honoring the remarkable individuals who have shaped our past and inspired our future.

Join us as we raise a toast to Lifeworks’ 70th year—a celebration of advocacy, empowerment, and endless possibilities. Together, we will continue to evolve, adapt, and thrive, staying true to our mission of advocating, empowering, and providing opportunities for all. Here’s to the next 70 years and beyond!

Chronicles of Adventures and Community at Lifeworks

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The last couple of months here at Lifeworks have been far from dull! Check out the fantastic photos capturing all the action-packed moments. In December, the Day Hab program in Westwood enjoyed magical trips on the Polar Express and a visit from the Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office who brought along Eddie, there very friendly therapy dog.  Throughout Lifeworks programs, something was happening every day.  Out of Norwood came program participant Elizebeth who performed with United Dance at the Nutcracker, Explorer’s Group enjoyed a fall adventure to a cornfield maze followed by a lunch at a nearby restaurant, the Autism Support Center and the Day programs hosted Halloween parties for both children and adults.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. Lifeworks offered a diverse range of activities to cater to every interest. With an array of activities, ranging from sport programs like bowling and horseback riding to the creative energy of theater workshops at the Marilyn Rodman Center for the Performing Arts in Foxborough, there’s never a dull moment. After months of workshops and rehearsals, participants for the Norwood Community-based Day Program in Norwood treated the audience with a stage performance of scenes from the play “Guys and Dolls.” And, a recent Lifeworks blog on our UTube page provides a glimpse into the bowling program that has been a staple for ages, providing fun and friendly competition.

Our newest addition, the Walking Club, currently offered indoors at Elite Fitness in Stoughton, is already making strides towards healthier lifestyles. These fitness enthusiasts are enjoying the indoor walking club while eagerly awaiting the warmth of spring, when they can take their walks outdoors, setting goals and enjoying the fresh air.

So, whether you’re seeking fun and adventure or looking to unwind, Lifeworks has something for everyone.  Don’t miss out—visit our website for a sneak peek at upcoming events and come join us!

Lifeworks and 88 Acres Forge a Path to Inclusive Employment

In a heartwarming collaboration, Lifeworks, a dedicated organization that provides skills training and job coaching for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, has joined forces with 88 Acres, a company that meticulously crafts allergen-friendly bars and butters using whole seeds and simple ingredients.

This alliance, initiated in September, has seamlessly created meaningful employment opportunities for Lifeworks participants at 88 Acres’ new facility in Canton. Beyond being jobs, these opportunities empower individuals, boosting self-esteem, and fostering a sense of belonging. Wendy Elder, Lifeworks Job Developer, shared her excitement about the collaboration, stating, “They were very welcoming, and after my initial meetings with 88 Acres team members Ryan and Becca, we knew that Lifeworks could be a part of their business growth and productivity.”

At the core of 88 Acres’ mission is a commitment to building an inclusive and empowered community. The Lifeworks team has been seamlessly integrated into their workforce, receiving accolades for their outstanding work ethic and dedication. Company co-founder & CEO Nicole Ledoux commends the Lifeworks employees, stating, “I really admire them. They are setting high standards on the work floor. They are the embodiment of what our company is about.”

Lifeworks employees, initially starting in the packaging area, have showcased their skills and adaptability, leading 88 Acres to now think about additional opportunities for them in other business areas. Lifeworks job coaches have played a pivotal role, outlining procedures, ensuring accountability, and contributing to the team’s success. Wendy expressed her satisfaction with the partnership, saying, “Our team loves it. I am so happy and grateful to the team at 88 Acres for being open to equity and inclusion!”

Nicole attributes much of 88 Acres’ success to its incredibly talented team, praising them for their consistency, dependability, and dedication. The familial atmosphere within the company has facilitated seamless employee retention and recruitment, with new hires often being referrals from within the organization.

Founded in a small kitchen, 88 Acres has grown exponentially, and newly occupies an impressive bakery and distribution facility in Canton. The recent move brought concerns about retaining dedicated staff, but this was swiftly addressed with the introduction of vans transporting employees from two locations in its former Dorchester neighborhood, ensuring continuity for its dedicated staff. This one thoughtful approach highlights 88 Acres’ commitment to its workforce, reflecting the company’s philosophy of considering employees not just as contributors but as valued members of the extended 88 Acres family. The Lifeworks team fits right in arriving daily by van transportation as well.

Lifeworks expresses its pleasure in having its participants join the 88 Acres team, emphasizing the positive experience and the shared commitment to creating more opportunities for everyone who wants to work. MaryEllen Cameron, Director of Employment Services for Lifeworks, highlighted the collaboration’s success, stating, “This truly is a winning collaboration for both companies. The Lifeworks crew is providing a valuable service to 88 Acres, helping them meet their production needs, while the Lifeworks crew is proud of working, making money, and enjoying the welcoming atmosphere at 88 Acres.”

As the collaboration continues to flourish, both organizations look forward to continued success and the impact they can bring to the table in building a more inclusive and diverse workforce.

Fostering Inclusion and Unity at Lifeworks


In recent months, Lifeworks has embarked on its most extensive training initiative to date, focusing on the important principles of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). In today’s dynamic landscape, nurturing a culture where every individual feels valued and respected is vital. DEI goes beyond basic protocol; it embodies continued dedication to cultivating an environment where all differences are not just acknowledged but embraced and celebrated. The rewards of prioritizing DEI are many—encompassing heightened retention rates, professional advancement opportunities, enhanced productivity, and overall organizational success.

“As a chapter of The Arc, one of the world’s largest advocates for civil and human rights, we recognize the urgency of uniting as an agency and as colleagues. Together, we have undertaken a collective journey to deepen our understanding and appreciation for one another, thereby enriching our agency, the services we offer, and our connections with both our families and the individuals under our care”, stated President and CEO Dan Burke.

Guiding us through these essential training sessions was Michele Stewart-Copes, a distinguished national trainer and consultant specializing in systems of care and cultural competency. Michele brings a wealth of experience, having collaborated with agencies supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including our colleagues at The Arc of the South Shore in Massachusetts.

With over 500 dedicated full and part-time staff members, we are delighted to report that nearly all have actively engaged in this initiative. Whether participating in person at the Norwood Elks or remotely via Zoom, our staff demonstrated a commitment to mutual learning and growth during two comprehensive workshops on Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Standards (CLAS) and Implicit Bias.

Building on this momentum, Lifeworks is proud to announce the formation of a dedicated DEI Committee, made up of staff from all areas of our programs and services. Co-chairing the committee are Residential Director Jessica Durand and Director of Development & Communications Dawna Gyukeri. This group will serve as an important advisory body on DEI-related matters, spearhead educational and event programming, collaborate with Human Resources to shape policies and procedures, and contribute to vital resources such as our employee handbook, new employee orientation materials, and job postings. Their invaluable contributions are only just beginning, and we extend our heartfelt gratitude for their dedication to this essential cause.

Meet Paul Gilbert – Lifeworks Director of Employment Services – Boston

This month, we have the pleasure of introducing you to Paul Gilbert, a valued member of the Lifeworks team for 11 years, who remarks that time has flown by in a flash. Paul currently serves as the Director of Employment Services – Boston.

Originally seeking a career change, Paul was drawn to the meaningful work of the nonprofit sector. His journey led him to Lifeworks, where he began as a case manager/job coach at LES Boston. Three years ago, he transitioned to the role of Associate Director, and then shortly thereafter to his current position as Director.

A lifelong learner, Paul holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. In 2022, he embraced the opportunity to further his education by attending the Providers’ Council Certificate in Non-Profit Human Services Management Program offered in partnership with Suffolk University. After completing the year-long program, Paul was inspired by the program’s quality and the supportive community it offered. He decided to pursue a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree. He found immense value in applying his newfound knowledge to his work at LES-Boston, enhancing his effectiveness and impact.

Paul’s dedication to learning was recognized with an MPA scholarship of $4,000, awarded jointly by the Providers’ Council and Suffolk, a testament to his commitment to personal and professional growth.

Reflecting on his time at Lifeworks, Paul expresses deep appreciation for the meaningful work and supportive environment. He notes the organization’s efforts to care for its employees and acknowledges the strides made in salary compensation, illustrating Lifeworks’ commitment to recognizing the value of its staff.

Outside of work and academic pursuits, Paul enjoys spending time with his wife Lauren and their beloved 10-year-old dog, Carson. An avid runner and sports enthusiast, Paul braves all weather conditions to hit the road, finding rejuvenation in running. His motto, “Work hard today so that you can be self-prepared for whatever comes next,” reflects his diligent work ethic and proactive mindset.

As for music, Paul declares Bruce Springsteen as the greatest of all time in his generation, emphasizing his appreciation for timeless classics.

Paul’s dedication to his work, continuous learning, and commitment to personal growth make him an asset to the Lifeworks community.

Lifeworks New Employee Engagement Committee Unveils Lifeworks Legends Club!

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Lifeworks proudly presents the Employee Engagement Committee, a group committed to hosting monthly events to uplift, engage, and recognize our staff for their exceptional devotion and hard work towards our mission of Advocacy, Empowerment, and Opportunity.  

The committee initiated its game plan in October of 2023 and successfully executed its inaugural event in December, commemorating the long-standing dedication of staff members who have been a part of our agency for over a decade – the Lifeworks Legends Club (LLC). Newly initiated members were given the option to choose between an engraved black and brown wooden chair or a speaker and cooler and were additionally gifted a plush throw blanket featuring the newly designed LLC logo. Thank you and congratulations to our newest Lifeworks Legends which includes:

  • Andrew Smith
  • Andrew Zanoni
  • Barbara St. George
  • Brenda J. Calder
  • Brian Clark
  • Daniel Sullivan
  • Eric Wilfinger
  • Evan Timbo
  • Jamie Raymond
  • Jessica Durand
  • John Harrington
  • Mary Perry
  • Nick Givotovsky
  • Paul Gilbert
  • Pavel Mendez
  • Sheila Heston
  • Teresa Coppola
  • Tess McDonald

We transitioned into the new year and our staff celebrated National Fun at Work Day with a weeklong, agency wide competition. Various programs vied for the title of having the most fun, with the victorious team earning a well-deserved pizza party.

From dancing at our desks with virtual Zumba, hula hooping, cornhole, mystery breakfast, trivia, a luau, and more the week was all about spreading joy. This funfest closed out with over 60 submissions of individuals and staff from across our organization having a blast. The committee deliberated diligently and landed on two winners, our Day Habilitation program in Westwood and Lifeworks Employment Services (LES) in Norwood.  

As the year unfolds, the committee is gearing up to introduce more innovative initiatives aimed at supporting, recognizing and appreciating staff and the diligent efforts they embody daily.  

Buy Lifeworks Gear

Did you know that Lifeworks has an online company store? You can now buy a hoodie, water bottle, or many other Lifeworks-branded products and have them shipped directly to you. Looking for a specific product you couldn’t find on the store site? Let me know and I may be able to add it to our collection. Buy Lifeworks Gear