“Meet Two Hinghamites of The Friendship Home, Ashley Collins and Donna Flaherty”

April 25, 2022 By Gabrielle Martin

The Friendship Home was founded in 1999 to better support local individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, offering opportunities to lead meaningful and productive lives while fulfilling their essential needs for belonging and socialization.

Friendship Home co-creators Joan Mullare and Wilma Goodhue are both mothers of adult children with developmental disabilities who knew firsthand about the unique challenges caregivers and families of individuals with developmental disabilities face — such as being overwhelmed, or feelings of isolation, in meeting the demands of caring for their loved one — and recognized the need for overnight respite care services on the South Shore.

In 2004, Goodhue and Mullare’s dream began to develop as the United Church of Christ in Norwell voted to donate the land upon which the Friendship Home now stands. Things continued to progress when philanthropist Doris Buffett proposed a challenge grant to complete the construction of the home, on the condition the community could raise enough money to match her donation—which they did, in attending the first Circle of Friends Gala.

Construction for the Friendship Home began in 2009, and by July of 2010, the first floor, complete with respite care facilities as well as other programs—such as Friendship Club meetings and a newly-formed Bridges to Work (BTW) vocational program—opened at 458 Main Street in Norwell behind the United Church of Christ.

Goodhue and Mullare’s tireless efforts to advocate for individuals with developmental disabilities extend outside of their founding of the Friendship Home; they both serve on the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services Regional and South Coastal Area Citizen Advisory Board, with Joan also is active in several mother’s support groups and the Residential Committee of New England Village while Wilma is a member of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation Regional and the South Shore Mothers’ Support Group.

Their work with the Friendship Home was awarded a certificate of Community Recognition by the Department of Mental Retardation at the State House in 2001 and were named Citizens of the Year in 2006 by the Norwell Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, Joan and Wilma were selected as two of the Most Influential Woman of the South Shore by South Shore Living Magazine, and in 2019, they celebrated the Friendship Home’s 20 year anniversary.

As the Friendship Home’s offerings have expanded, Goodhue and Mullare have added to their board — which includes Donald W. Spradlin, who served as the Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Subsidiary of PIAB Vacuum Products in Hingham until his retirement, and Treasurer Douglas Briggs, who resides in town with his wife Claudia and their two children — and hired an executive director.

After two decades of growth, the Friendship Home maintains its’ mission of “[enriching] the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families through quality respite and support services provided in a safe and caring environment,” providing day and evening programs to South Shore residents — including several Hinghamites, such as Ashley Collins.

Like many Hingham residents, Ashley says some of her favorite things to do around town include going to the beach and getting Nona’s Ice Cream (in case you were wondering, vanilla is her go-to — a classic).

I had the pleasure of interviewing Ashley, during which I learned that she is the middle child in her family, with three brothers and four sisters, and resides in town with her parents and her dogs, Daisy and Zuzu. Some of her hobbies include going shopping, citing Old Navy as a favorite she frequents, and names High School Musical as one of her favorite movies.

Ashley Collins

Ashley attends Friendship Home Monday through Friday each week; her classes include Independent Living — which consists of bedmaking, laundry, and writing, to name a few areas of study — and Kitchen Skills as well as music and Zumba. She also goes to the gym once a week with the Friendship Home.

As for her favorite part? She says, “I like to do everything!”

Ashley is looking forward to enjoying the nice weather in the coming months, and shares that one of her favorite things to do around town is enjoy walking her dogs with her mom in Bare Cove.

Hingham resident Donna Flaherty also attends Friendship Club Monday-Friday. Thirty-one-year old Donna introduces herself, already displaying her contagiously friendly personality as she lets me know she’s prepared for our interview — Ashley chiming in saying she had, too.

Donna Flaherty

Donna is originally from Quincy but relocated to Hingham 10 years ago: “I love it there because I’m a bit closer to the Friendship Home!”

Some of her favorite things to do around town include shopping with her mom, Barbara, and getting her nails done at Derby Street; Donna also enjoys eating at Wahlburger’s.

When asked what her favorite hobby is, she’s quick to say, “I like to socialize with everyone!” After a pause, she adds, “Coloring, taking walks around my neighborhood, video chatting with my friends.”

As for her family, Donna has two older brothers and an older sister; she’s a proud aunt to several nieces and nephews as well as a godmother to nephew Luke.

Donna tells me she’s been coming to Friendship Home since she was twenty-two. Some of her day-to-day activities include activities like bowling at Hanover’s Boston Bowl, dance classes such as Zumba, and trips to the gym on Mondays — and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Donna worked at Wendy’s in Hanover.

So what’s her favorite part? “I think I like everything here,” she says earnestly. “I like to have fun.”

Speaking of fun, Donna has several fun things lined up for this summer, including spending time at Camp Fatima in New Hampshire and going to Camp Hayward for Girls. In general, she says she enjoys hanging out with her friends and spending time with her boyfriend Jack Sullivan, who also attends Friendship Home and hails from Hingham.

Ashley and Donna are two individuals who benefit from the facilities and services provides by the Friendship Home, which extend beyond employment opportunities, day programs, and respite care to include camaraderie and community.

Wondering how you can support the Friendship Home? The Friendship Home does accept donations via their website; local businesses can also opt to become Employment Partners and provide vocational opportunities. For more information, visit www.friendshiphome.net.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.