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FRAMINGHAM – Advocates, a nonprofit human services provider, today announced that its Fred Gaspari Fund for Families has awarded grants to 21 families to help them care for a loved one with an intellectual or developmental disability.

Advocates, through the Gaspari Fund, awards grants of up to $500 to support a variety of needs that help make caregiving a little easier on families.  Recipients facing financial hardship typically use the grants to purchase home exercise equipment, medical devices, sensory items such as headphones or weighted blankets, education and career support, therapeutic activities such as horseback riding, and respite care.

“We recognize that caring for a loved one with a disability can be challenging under the best of circumstances,” said Jeff Keilson, senior vice president of strategic planning at Advocates.  “The Gaspari Fund grants, while modest, make a world of difference in supporting a specific family need and allowing a loved one to thrive.”

Current grantees include a family from Framingham who applied for a grant to purchase an adult tricycle that will allow their daughter to ride with friends and family.  The daughter has low muscle tone and balance challenges due to her conditions, which include a mitochondrial disorder and autism. 

“She is now 18 and the little girl bikes are too small for her now,” said Sandra Rowe of Framingham.  “We want to give her the joy of riding with us and with her friends, as well as the independence that comes with controlling the speed and direction of a three-wheel bike.”

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Another grantee, Philip Ferranti of Natick, requested a grant to create a food prep area for his adult son with autism, who has his own designated living space in the family home. 

“There is an area where he can prep and store his own food, but we would like to put in a counter so he can have a small refrigerator, microwave and toaster,” Ferranti said.  “This way he can have a safe place to make his own food and be more independent.”

In the past decade, Advocates has received more than 400 applications and distributed $100,000 in grants to more than 200 families through the fund.

Advocates accepts applications from families across the MetroWest region, including the following communities: Acton, Ashland, Bellingham, Concord, Dover, Framingham, Franklin, Holliston, Hopedale, Hopkinton, Hudson, Lexington, Lincoln, Marlborough, Maynard, Medfield, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millis, Natick, Needham, Newton, Northborough, Sherborn, Southborough, Stow, Sudbury, Upton, Waltham, Wayland, Wellesley, Westborough and Weston.

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Advocates provides a broad range of services for people facing life challenges such as addiction, aging, autism, brain injury, intellectual/developmental disabilities, and mental health challenges.  With Advocates’ help, thousands of individuals and families living in Massachusetts are finding the supports they need to lead healthy, productive, and rewarding lives.  For more information, visit

Ruth is social and active in her community, often visiting friends, going to church, and attending community events. Recently, Ruth’s mother applied for and received funds from the Fred Gaspari Fund, which provides small grants to family caregivers who are caring for a loved one with a disability. Thanks to generous donors and the fund, Ruth and her family were able to purchase and install a ramp onto her van, so she and her friends have easier accessibility and can stay active in the community. Special thanks to Ray’s Automotive for the installation.

The press release & photos were submitted to SOURCE media.

By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.