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.
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.