A trip to Disney World is a popular vacation choice for many young people, but for the intellectually disabled students at Cardinal Cushing Centers, it can be a trip they anticipate for years in advance.
John Boucher, CEO of South Shore Bank in Weymouth, knew that the cancellation of the annual trip would be a crushing disappointment. But that’s what was on the verge of happening in 2006 when Abington Savings Bank, the traditional sponsor, was acquired, leaving the center scrambling for another financial partner.
Boucher, a member of the center’s board of trustees, arranged for the bank to raise $60,000 to send nearly 50 students and chaperones to Orlando. The trip is a milestone for students nearing the end of their time at Cardinal Cushing as they make the transition to adult housing and work arrangements.
“A lot of these kids have never been in a hotel, and they’re 22 years old. You see how life-changing it is,” Boucher said.
Boucher joined the board of directors a decade ago and became deeply involved in the center’s oversight, including eight years as chairman. He learned about the looming trip cancellation from his wife, a volunteer teacher’s aide at the school.
In a case of felicitous timing, Boucher had just been promoted to CEO of South Shore Bank. One of his first decisions was committing the bank to sponsoring the center’s St. Patrick’s Day dinner and auction, enabling the trip to go forward.
Since then, South Shore Bank has raised more than $860,000 for the center and sent 145 Cushing students on the “Trip of a Lifetime.” The bank also buys the graduating students class rings.
South Shore Bank also supports the community through its charitable foundation, which awards approximately $250,000 in grants annually to educational and social service organizations.
“There are literally hundreds of nonprofits that are benefactors of our generosity, and they count on it every year,” Boucher said. “We feel strongly about it.”
After nearly 43 years with the organization, Boucher is set to retire as of July 1. He’ll be succeeded by James Dunphy, who joined the bank as executive vice president in January 2014. Boucher leaves an organization with 14 locations south of Boston and $1 billion in assets, but one that hasn’t lost its focus on local communities as it grew.
“We’re a billion-dollar bank now, and we do just about all of our lending on the South Shore,” he said. “We’re a mutual savings bank, so we have no stockholders, and we believe firmly in giving back to the community.”