It isn’t necessarily in a CEO’s job description, but guiding tours throughout Essex County is second nature to Dave Welbourn. And last Thursday, he was more than happy to join friends from the Tower Foundation on a tour they wouldn’t quickly forget.
The tour group included Tower board members and ECCF colleagues. Their itinerary included stops at nonprofits that assist individuals with intellectual disabilities. Each had benefitted from a grant provided by The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation, which supports community programming that results in children, adolescents, and young adults affected by substance abuse, learning disabilities, mental illness, and intellectual disabilities achieving their full potential.
“It was an extraordinary day in so many ways,” Dave said. “There were great questions and interaction. Visiting these organizations and meeting people who devote so much to care for those in greatest need was a spectacular example of the American tradition of philanthropy, of private action for the public good.”
First stop? The city of Lawrence, home to the good folks at Fidelity House Human Services whose organization has provided community residences and supportive services for 42 years to individuals facing a range of intellectual disabilities. FHHS helps families, and individuals with cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, and other cognitive or physical impairments.
Next up, the group drove to Beverly and toured both the Northshore Recovery High School and the North Shore Education Consortium. NSRHS meets the unique academic and recovery needs of students with diagnosed substance use disorder. The NSEC is a collaboration formed by 17 school districts that serve students with developmental, emotional or behavioral disabilities, and has recently launched an early childhood mental health initiative.
Back in the van, the group crossed the bridge into Salem where Dave pointed out the memorial sites of those who died during the witch hysteria. A few corners later, they pulled into Children’s Friend and Family Services and learned how the organization has spent 176 years bringing good news to Salem, growing in direct response to the needs of youth and families there.
Dave’s tour ended at the Lynn campus of the North Shore Community College, where the group visited a program called Bridge to the Future that introduces students with intellectual disabilities to the college experience.
“It was great to see our Tower colleagues’ warm relations with the organizations we visited, a heartening example of genuine interest in the health and progress of grantees,” Dave said. “Our field trip also showed us how great the challenges are and yet how much good is happening.”