HOLLISTON (CBS) – It happens here in Holliston. This MetroWest community is home to Instagram founder Kevin Systrom, and the “Moon Tree,” grown from seeds taken into space on the Apollo 14 mission. Legend has it that while traveling through Massachusetts in 1789, George Washington tried to tip over the famed “Balancing Rock” that still stands today.
Holliston is also where you’ll find Nick Giammarinaro hard at work landscaping the grounds at a mini golf course called Putts and More. “I love the smell of cut grass. I love to get dirty,” he told WBZ-TV.
Nick has developmental disabilities, but when it comes to keeping up these grounds, he’s laser focused. “I feel like I am a hard worker, [to] make it look beautiful, like Fenway Park,” he said.
Nick’s parents, Jim and Marion Giammarinaro, bought the course several years ago when Nick aged out of school and needed a job.
“He had shown some aptitude for landscaping so we thought we would look into buying some commercial property so he could landscape,” Marion explained.
When a commercial real estate broker suggested the mini golf course, they jumped at the chance. “It just felt right,” Marion said. Soon Nick was mowing, weeding and mulching.
“I like to get it perfect, straight lines,” he said.
Marion and Jim soon realized they could also make a difference for other families. “We decided why should we do this just for us, there is so much need. There is a high unemployment rate among people with disabilities,” Marion said.
Now they have 9 employees with disabilities. Emma Pignone has Down syndrome. She helps keep the course clean and restocks the clubs and balls. “I like working here, it’s a lot of fun,” she told us.
Jessica Mazzola has a learning disability and used to struggle interacting with other people. When she first started working, her mom came along to help, now she works independently.
“It’s really helped me with communicating with others, being organized and learning how to deal with people,” she told WBZ.
Sarah Decker’s disabilities are physical, which makes it tough to get around. But she’s great with the customers and runs the shack which sells snacks as well as tickets to enter the park. She’s been disappointed trying to get other jobs. “I was told that I pretty much would be a burden,” she said.
Sarah told us having this job has changed her outlook. “I love that I have the opportunity to be helpful, to be useful, it means a lot. I’m just a lot happier,” she said.
It’s a sentiment shared by all of these young adults who seem to enjoy working as much as the families like the golf.
“I like to meet different people. I like to be social. I love the opportunity to work here. [I have] great parents,” Nick said.