CHEERS TO 50 YEARS! Celebrating the Legacy of Cape Abilities!

Filed in Blog by on February 28, 2019

The year 2018 marked the most important milestone in the history of this organization.  It commemorated 50 years of providing the highest quality programs and services to thousands of individuals with disabilities on Cape Cod that helped them reach their potential, and live valued and meaningful lives in their communities.   When Cape Abilities began as Nauset Workshop in 1968, there were four individuals receiving services.
Today, we serve over 400 people with disabilities across Cape Cod. 

But, as our 50th Anniversary Video below shows, there is so much more to this story than just a growth in numbers served.  Our 50-year legacy on Cape Cod is a celebration that reflects the achievements of our participants and the contributions of our dedicated staff, our amazing volunteers
and the loyal community partners who are aligned with our values and are committed to our mission.


Our 50th Anniversary video showcases the finest in abilities
of the entire Cape Abilities family.



“Cheers to 50 Years” – Important Moments in Cape Abilities History

In 1968, Cape Abilities was founded as Nauset Workshop in Orleans and began its first programs out of the old Orleans Fire Station, serving just a handful of individuals.  Mrs. Rose Kennedy (right) visited the center in its first months, and shared our mission with many in her effort to support those with disabilities on Cape Cod.

In 1973, Nauset Workshop in Orleans began construction on a satellite office in Hyannis called the Lyndon Center (left), named in memory of the son of Paul Lorusso (top photo, second from left). The one-story facility on Airport Road sat on land donated to Nauset Workshop by the Lorusso family. Completed in 1974, programs at the Lyndon Center addressed the growing employment training needs of individuals with disabilities throughout the Cape.

In the mid-1970’s, the goal of our Residential program (right) was to create a stable family environment, supported by dedicated staff, that would provide new domestic and social learning experiences and enhance each resident’s feeling of independence and self-esteem. By 1978, group homes in Harwich, Hyannis and Orleans were serving 20 individuals with disabilities.Today, Cape Abilities’ Residential Services, includes 16 homes; with no more than four residents per home. These programs continue to ensure that individuals with disabilities are able to choose the living situation that best meets their needs to enhance their quality of life.

In 1982
, the Nauset Workshop relocated from Orleans to Eastham, into an 8,000 square foot building that would serve as the new center for programming and services for individuals with disabilities across Cape Cod.  On August 15, 1984, the building was rededicated the “Cochran Center”(left), in honor of Henry J. Cochran, Nauset Workshop’s  President & Executive Director from 1971-74, who passed away earlier that year.  Mr. Cochran was a guiding force in the planning and building of the original Lyndon Center in Hyannis.  Attending the ceremony along with Mrs. Henry J. Cochran were (l-r) the Cochran daughters, Virginia, Margarita and Nannette, granddaughters Anne and Emily, and son-in-law Donald Klug.

In 1987
, a group of parents in the Lower Cape started a bowling group for Cape Abilities’ Cochran Center participants called the Cape Cod Capers (right), and volunteered their time and resources to create this fun and recreational activity. Today, that original commitment is alive and well! Thank you to everyone who rally unconditionally every year to keep this seasonal bowling experience alive – from volunteer scorekeepers who have not missed a single day in 32 years, to the Orleans / Eastham Elks Lodge #2572 who cater the annual team banquet. And the Orleans Bowling Center has kept the $1 a game price for more than three decades!

Since 1968
, Cape Abilities has developed  and maintained successful community partnerships that enrich the lives of our participants. Whether its educational music lessons (top left, 1971) or a beautiful day on the ocean (bottom left, 2015), these activities generate life-changing opportunities to improve the quality of life for the individuals we support, and provide enjoyable social engagement for all.  Changing lives for 50 years! That’s what we do,  thanks to the steadfast support of our community partners, who empower the people we serve to achieve meaningful roles in the Cape community.

The agency known today as Cape Abilities
has changed its name three times in 50 years to highlight our dedication and commitment to the mission of our organization.  Founded in 1968 as Nauset Workshop by parents of individuals with disabilities who made candles in a sheltered environment, the name was changed in 1993 to Nauset, Inc. to help move us beyond the sheltered workshop setting and to help our participants become more engaged in their communities.

Then, in 2005, to reflect the Cape-wide expansion of our services, the more distinctive name, Cape Abilities, was chosen and the lighthouse logo was retained for our new identity to help guide the way for future development. Cape Abilities says who we are and what we are trying to do for the individuals with disabilities we proudly serve.


50th Anniversary Events


We hope you will join us on Thursday, August 22, 2019 for “A Celebration In Story”, an evening salute to 50 years of creating life-changing opportunities for individuals with disabilities!
With Special Guest, Jung-Ho Pak, Artistic Director and Conductor of the Cape Symphony.  Please click on the invitation to the left to learn more and to purchase tickets right now!


Recognition from the State House!

We are so proud of our five-decade legacy and the privilege we have had serve the most incredible citizens in our community.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (below) congratulated Cape Abilities at our 2018 Annual Meeting on 50 years of service to thousands of individuals with disabilities and commended us for our commitment and dedication to the growth and success of the Cape Cod community.


Why Give to Cape Abilities?

“I like to go to Cape Abilities every day. I like doing exercises and I love going on trips. Cape Abilities has changed my life. I’m more independent and more confident because the staff has worked so hard with me.”

Meg Donahue (yellow jacket), Cape Abilities Participant


“Cape Abilities has been a game-changer for our son, Michael. It has improved his quality of life tremendously, and taught him new life skills. Today he is a different person from the one who first arrived, thanks to the top-notch staff at Cape Abilities.”

                               Carol and Brian Kenner(right), Cape Abilities Family Guardians


“Cape Abilities provides my son, Jonathan, and his peers with a healthy and supportive environment, an education in life skills and healthy living, remunerated work within his abilities and desires, and involvement in the community around him.  All of which leads to a happy, productive life that maximizes his full potential.”

James Taylor, M.D.(left), Past Chairman of the Board of Directors and Current Family Guardian


“Cape Abilities helps me to make the right choices, to stay healthy and in shape, and has helped me advocate for myself. I like to go out in the community with my friends, learn new skills and we love helping others.”

                                                                                                                           Justin McGee(right), Cape Abilities Participant


Your Gift Changes Lives!

As a nonprofit organization, Cape Abilities relies on support from people like you!
We honor and appreciate contributions from our ever-growing circle of friends,
and invite you to be part of that special group.
Click Here to visit our Ways To Give page and to learn more!

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