Peter Cook Sr., 2020 Citizen of the Year

James E. Kukstis Wicked Local Original story ran on May 11 2021, 1:05PM

Peter Cook Sr.’s charitable work has always been personal – working to help those who have gone through struggles he and his family know all too well.

For his tireless work, which has impacted the lives of so many families and individuals struggling with addiction, cancer and disabilities, Peter Cook Sr. of the Cook Family Charitable Foundation, has been named the Marshfield Chamber of Commerce and Marshfield Mariner’s 2020 Citizen of the Year. 

Cook has long been a go-to philanthropist on the South Shore. He and his son, Peter Cook Jr., first founded their foundation after his granddaughter was diagnosed with epilepsy.

“We’d raised money for all other people at that point in time, so we thought we’d start up our own charity,” he said. 

They founded the Jordan Cook Epilepsy Fund, which raised $350,000 for Mass General Hospital over four years. After another granddaughter was diagnosed with leukemia, the charity expanded to support those with that disease and the name was changed to the Cook Family Charitable Fund. 

Shortly after, the charity again expanded to include supporting those dealing with addiction, something Cook and other members of his family have also experienced firsthand.

“It’s part of our family,” Cook said. 

Multiple worthy efforts 

Each year, the foundation directs is fundraising efforts towards one of these three causes, though their distribution efforts routinely reach all three. All hard costs are covered by the Cooks personally, so all monetary donations received go straight to those in need. 

“We’ve been able to do that from day number one,” he said. “That’s the way it’s going to stay.”

The foundation is able to distribute money directly to families, allowing those families to pay for things like rehab or housing closer to cancer treatment locations. 

The Cook Family Charitable Fund is an approved charity with the Massachusetts Marijuana Commission, and as part of that received a $100,000 donation from Frozen 4, a company opening a dispensary in Marshfield, money which will be used to fund an online education course for police, fire, schools and small businesses about substance abuse in the workplace.

“We’re very very excited about that,” Cook said. “If you’re a company today and don’t think you have an addiction problem in your workplace, you better wake up, because we all have it,” he said. “It affects not only kids but adults, family members; it’s a whole scenario of educational process.”

In addition to the online training, participants are also provided access to a call center which recommends vetted rehabilitation centers and instructions on finding local Al-Anon and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

Longtime involvement 

A Marshfield resident for more than 50 years, Cook started his business in the same Webster Street office it still occupies. He’s been an active town resident throughout that time, including funding the start of the D.A.R.E. program in Marshfield in 1982. 

In that time and through his business and charitable work, Cook said he’s worked in partnership with many individuals who have contributed to those efforts’ successes – and to the Citizen of the Year recognition. 

“It’s an honor, I appreciate that, but there are an awful lot of people that should be standing up there that are part of my team, the number one person is my son,” he said.  We are a great team, our whole family is unbelievable.”

Included in that especially, Cook said, is longtime friend Steven Kane, who helped him start Cook Family Learning, who passed away in February. 

“He was a remarkable man,” Cook said. 

The fund’s vision could easily be said about Cook’s own work: Changing lives, one day at a time. 

A family’s commitment to quality cancer care

Helping others is a Cook family affair.
Their foundation, known as the Cook Family Charitable Fund, raised $30,000 through their annual golf tournament in July and donated it to the cancer services expansion fund for Cape Cod Hospital.
“This donation is very personal,” said Peter Cook, Sr. “My wife was born at Cape Cod Hospital and grew up in Dennis. Our daughter works here, lives on the Cape, has delivered all four of her children here and one of them is a cancer survivor. It is really meaningful for our family.”
His daughter is Alison Joyce, RN, an oncology nurse who works in the Davenport-Mugar Cancer Center at Cape Cod Hospital. In 2012, her then three-year-old daughter, Raegan, was diagnosed with leukemia and subsequently a Wilms tumor (a cancerous tumor of the kidney.) She was treated with chemotherapy over a period of two years at the Jimmy Fund Clinic at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and is now doing well and has been in remission for five years.
The experience inspired Alison to return to caring for oncology patients, something she used to do before her children were born. She has worked at the Davenport-Mugar Cancer Center for five years.
“This year, my brother said the money we raised could go towards oncology and he asked me where I wanted it to go,” said Alison. “Since I work here and a lot of my friends are coming through the clinic [for treatment] I thought it would be nice to have the money right here to go towards the new expansion. My dream is that pediatric oncology services will be available on the Cape someday.”
The Cook’s gift is an investment in the community, said Beatrice Gremlich, senior development officer for the Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation.
“We are so appreciative of this donation,” she said.
The expansion project at Cape Cod Hospital calls for cancer services to be housed on the first and second floors of a new medical tower and will include the following:
  • 45 infusion bays to administer intravenous medications. It will be double the current space and will be able to accommodate up 50,000 patient visits per year and significantly reduce patient wait times.
  • Two state-of-the-art linear accelerator suites to deliver radiation treatments.
  • A new computed tomography (CT) suite to provide pre-treatment detection scanning for patients diagnosed with cancer.
“While we do a really good job of giving very good care and we have all the technology to provide high-quality care, it will be nicer to have a more comfortable environment for the patients. Feeling comfortable and at ease where you are plays a big role,” said Jeffrey Martin, MD, a Cape Cod Hospital radiation oncologist who played in the golf tournament.
Origins of the Cook Family Charitable Fund
The fund was originally called the Jordyn Cook Epilepsy Fund to raise money and fund a website through Massachusetts General Hospital. Peter Jr.’s daughter Jordyn, 21, was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was three years old and it took him and his wife a long time to find information about her neurological disorder.
“There was no information concisely in one spot,” said Peter, Jr. “We started working with MGH and that’s where it all really started.”
Their first pledge was the sole funding source for the educational website, “Growing Up with Epilepsy.”
In 2016, the fund became the Cook Family Charitable fund when Peter Sr. decided to add another level to their charity by supporting other causes, including support services for people with addiction, cancer and intellectual disabilities.
“I’m happy that Alison got to pick where the money was going this year,” said Peter Jr. “She has been a tremendous supporter of our foundation. It has been wrapped around my daughter’s epilepsy needs and developmental delays and my father’s desire to help people with addiction. For Alison to get her turn and pick Cape Cod Hospital, where she works and is part of the community, is a good choice.”
“This is just a wonderful cause we want to continue to support,” said Peter Sr.

Featured Photo: (L-R) Peter Cook, Jr.’ Alison (Ali) Joyce, RN at Cape Cod Hospital; Peter Cook, Sr.; Jeffrey M. Martin, MD; Bea Greamlich, Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation.

Insurance Industry Veteran, Peter Cook of Marshfield

During Peter Cook’s tenure at Cook & Company, he helped shape the direction of the Commonwealth’s Insurance industry by developing new products and services. He established the process which enabled Massachusetts municipalities to self-fund their health insurance. He designed and implemented the first retrospective claims auditing system. He also established the Massachusetts Municipal Trust, saving millions of dollars in medical reinsurance costs for Massachusetts municipalities.

In starting P Cook Insurance, Inc., he said, “this is a new and exciting venture. There is a need within the insurance industry for an entrepreneurial approach to controlling costs and helping people and businesses find affordable solutions for risk mitigation.” He added, “After many years in the public sector municipality market of insurance, I am enthusiastic about this change in direction and I look forward to helping business owners and individuals in the private sector with their insurance needs.”