The Gift

The holidays are upon us!

It’s that time of year when things get busy and it seems there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Regardless of which holiday you and your family celebrate, it’s traditionally the “gift giving” season. Over the years as a social worker and in my time as President/CEO at Mary Cariola Children’s Center I have seen the simplest gifts provide the most joy--after all, who doesn’t like a meaningful gift? These have significance to both the gift-giver and the gift-receiver. At Mary Cariola Children’s Center I am afforded the opportunity to see gifts given and received on a daily basis, not just at holiday time.

There are so many things that can be overlooked, even ignored when you have a healthy child. Aside from the “firsts” like a step, saying Daddy or riding a bike without training wheels, sometimes we take for granted the simplest gifts like a smile, a wave or even a hug. For our children with multiple disabilities, nothing is taken for granted and each day is a gift. Waving hello, identifying a color, communicating with the aid of technology or graduating from school are gifts of accomplishment that were once considered impossible. At Cariola, there are many accomplishments reached every single day in classrooms on both our campuses and in our residences where many call home. Accomplishing these simple but incredibly meaningful tasks are worthy and meaningful gifts. They are gifts to be cherished, and celebrated!

Our staff working with students and residents know how important the simplest accomplishment can be to a child, a parent, a family and the teams of caring individuals who cherish each child they work with. The agency vision statement is clear, “We will set the standard in innovations that unlock lifelong potential for people with complex disabilities.” Reaching lifelong potential is a gift that everyone at Mary Cariola holds dear as we remain dedicated to all we serve.

We are conscious of the fact that this time of year can be difficult for many due to circumstances such as poverty, unemployment, health, loss, or societal issues. Unfortunately, every day we see these factors and how they impact children. Our wonderful social workers, educators, clinicians and direct service professionals work diligently in offering their expertise to ease parent worries about their children, their care and education. We often say inspiration, along with innovation and empowerment is what we do. The truth is the children and families we serve are the inspiration for the work we do. They are the greatest gift of all.

The entire Cariola Community joins me in wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season. Thank you for your trust and belief in what we do.