In the ten years since Marilyn Barrish moved into a Thrive Support & Advocacy community residence, she often spoke lovingly about her parents. Growing up as an only child, Marilyn and her parents had an extremely close relationship. Marilyn spent many years knowing that her parents had passed away but not being able to remember where they were buried, which often made her very sad.
On a mission to ease her sadness, Jim Fairbanks, Thrive Residential Program Director, was determined to find Marilyn’s parents. “Through casual conversation, I knew how important this was to her and that she wanted to be with them when she went to her final resting place,” recalled Fairbanks. After a year of research, Fairbanks located the Barrishes at a cemetery in Sharon, MA. Unbeknownst to anyone,
they had purchased a plot for Marilyn’s burial, but unfortunately, there were unpaid expenses of more than $5,000 associated with bringing their final wish to reality.
Over the next three years, Fairbanks worked the phones and his connections to find funding for Marilyn’s cause. “Many organizations wanted to help, but it was just not in the scope of their offerings,” shared Fairbanks. After more than a hundred phone calls, two local organizations, Yad Chessed and Jewish Family Services of Metrowest, heard Marilyn’s story and committed to helping. They worked together and donated almost the entire sum for the cost of her burial. After years of hard work and determination, Fairbanks finally found real-life guardian angels for Marilyn.
This fall, thanks to their donations, Marilyn’s burial plan was finalized. “I feel such a sense of relief knowing that Marilyn will be reunited with her family in the end,” said Fairbanks. Although she doesn’t fully understand what happened, Marilyn finds happiness knowing where her parents are buried. “This process has been especially emotional because I knew how important it was to Marilyn. Our residents are like family. I love them dearly and would do anything for them. If there is one thing I learned from all of this, it is to never give up,” Fairbanks shared. This story, particularly Jim Fairbanks, is a shining example of the above and beyond philosophy at Thrive.