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A Winter Update from Advocates Life Skills and Learning Center

December 3, 2020

An Update from Advocates Life Skills and Learning Center 

Over the past few months, we have welcomed back 107 friends to their day programs at Advocates Life Skills and Learning Center, which reopened in September. Another 90 individuals are receiving remote support!

People are receiving both on-site and remote services weekly, including supportive and creative programming, check-in calls, in-home supports, daily living skills, health and safety education, and more. Most importantly, we're showing off our smiling faces as often as we can!

Recently, we celebrated Direct Service Professional and Employee Appreciation week at Advocates. Senior leaders from across the agency dropped off gifts and appreciation certificates to all staff. This year, more than ever, our staff have gone above and beyond, and we can't thank them enough for all they do.

Read on for the latest program updates on Remote Services, Special Events, Community Based Day Supports, and Employment. To receive these updates by email, please subscribe to our newsletter at


Elizabeth Bardasz
Senior Director of Developmental and Brain Injury Day Services



Update brought to you by Kathy D’Errico, Director of Day Supports

Creative and interactive remote programming remains consistent and ongoing. Individuals we support continue to enjoy weekly schedules based off themes such as Carnivals/Circus, Vacation vs Staycation, Under the Sea, Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Voting, and others. Each week’s schedule of activities covers a variety of topics such as art, science, job readiness, social skills, exercise, book club, virtual tours, news, interaction with food, and more, which all relate back to the theme. A fun weekly video ties into the theme and continues to highlight staff responses to recent questions.

Trivia, games, and dance parties are among our evening social calls, in addition to our two virtual Zoom programs held during the day. We have also continued our weekly calls for those receiving remote services to see how things are at home, what they are engaging in, and how they are feeling. Calls continue to be made by managers, Community Based Day Supports (CBDS) and Employment Services staff, and the nursing team.



Update brought to you by Alex Bobola, Case Manager 

Life is great being back at the program. We are happy to share that, even with new restrictions, we were still able to hold some of our holiday celebrations.

In October we held our annual Halloween Party. All were encouraged to dress up, and participate in a costume contest! Everyone was given the opportunity to work on a variety of Halloween crafts and play Bingo for prizes. We also still held trick or treating, but did it in reverse so that candy was delivered. Halloween was a success and gave us a good outlook for our Thanksgiving celebration.

This year for Thanksgiving, although we could not have a full meal served, everyone still received a wrapped treat of their choice to take home. In addition, they also worked on some crafts, made kindness rocks, and played Thanksgiving Bingo. During the week, everyone also made leaf ornaments and wrote what they were thankful for. These ornaments were all added to our Thankful Tree by our front desk. (See picture!)

Although we did things a bit differently, both holidays were a success. We hope to be able to do it all again for Christmas and additional holidays!




Update brought to you by Eric Dwinnells, Senior Case Manager

Since reopening, the Community Based Day Supports (CBDS) group is making the best of staying safe in the community  most days of the week. The pandemic has allowed us to take field trips that we never would have been able to enjoy before.

For example, we spent a day at Hammond Castle in Gloucester. Hammond Castle was built by a rather eccentric inventor in the 20th century using pieces of actual medieval castles from Europe! We also took our yearly trip to Salem where we stopped by The Witch History Museum and learned about the 1692 Witch Trials. We also visited The Uxbridge Antique Fire Museum which is a small museum run by retired firefighters who take you on a guided tour of antique fire rescue equipment.

In Marblehead, we enjoyed lunch in the beautiful harbor surrounding the lighthouse. At Dr. Seuss Sculpture Park in Springfield we saw life-sized sculptures of some of the beloved author’s most famous creations… and Dr. Seuss himself! We even took a trip to historic North Bridge where the war for American independence began and visited Gillette Stadium to see where The Patriots play and practice.

All this, and of course we still visit all the places closer to home that we are so used to. Safety is still a big concern, so we make sure we are always wearing our masks and sanitizing our hands before and after entering any place we visit, as well as sanitizing the van after each use.  



Update brought to you by Colleen Graham, Assistant Director of Employment Services

Since the reopening of the program, we’re thrilled to share that four individuals have found new employment, and more than 10 friends in total are back to work in the community. For folks not yet able to return to work, our staff have held trainings and maintained connection with employers to ensure a smooth transition back to work when the time comes.

Les Barnstone, Vocational Coach for more than 14 years, has been instrumental in finding new opportunities for our friends in Advocates Employment Services. Les has worked with Mike for years providing support and opportunities for growth in Mike’s position at Jack’s Abby. Due to COVID-19, Mike was furloughed from his job. Les, knowing that the restaurant was not going to be able to have Mike back until the Spring, encouraged Mike to explore new job opportunities. With Mike’s work history and Les’ connection in the community, Mike has secured a new position with TJ Maxx and is settling in well.


About the Life Skills and Learning Center: Through our Day and Employment Services at the Life Skills & Learning Center, Advocates staff partners with adults who have disabilities and their families to customize experiences and activities uniquely suited to each person’s interests, skills, needs, and goals. Learn more at