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Legacy Ball commemorates 40 years of helping St. Charles County residents

Community Living in action: Paul Podhorsky [left] and staff member Cecily Brewer wash dishes together. [Beth Kelley Photo]

This is one ball where the magic of the evening doesn’t vanish at the stroke of midnight.

In fact, proceeds from the Legacy Ball will benefit an organization aiding over 1,000 individuals living with developmental disabilities – and help it celebrate its 40th anniversary.

“I think it’s a proud, but also a very satisfying feeling,” President and CEO Barb Griffith said of the organization’s upcoming anniversary. “We’ve grown so much, and in hindsight, you see all these amazing things that have happened in the world and in the organization, and all the lives we’ve touched.”

Community Living, Inc. incorporated in 1978 to provide in-demand services to area adults. It merged with Family Support Services in 2010 to expand its services to area children.

Today, the nonprofit provides aid through six program categories: adult recreation services, social opportunities and recreation [SOAR], employment services, respite services, support services for adults and residential services. Some activities are year-round, while others are structured in a camp format.

Residential Services provides support and outreach to individuals living in their own homes. Employment Services not only helps to match job seekers with potential employers but to provide the supports needed to keep that person employed. Respite Services offers care in-home and out-of-home to provide parents and caregivers with relief from daily routines.

“We try to offer as much as we can,” Griffith said. “If we don’t offer what someone needs, we have a department that can help people navigate and find those resources.”

Community Living, Inc.’s most unique offering is its SOAR service, which provides year-round enrichment and social activities for teens with developmental disabilities enrolled in middle or high school. Other programs also help provide leisure and volunteer activities to people of all ages, including Adult Recreation Services that provides enrichment and leisure opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities. The Support Services for Adults program offers outcome-based day services to keep participants productive.

It’s not uncommon for participants to be engaged in multiple programs. For example, Aimee Weatherford is a member of the adult recreation program who volunteers locally as part of the support services for adults program. Currently, Weatherford is working with the Humane Society’s Shelter Buddies program. Previously, she read to children at United Services for over 15 years. Weatherford has been involved in four of the organization’s six programs.

“I love working with animals and kids,” Weatherford said. “I love reading to the dogs, too and always see lots of dogs I want to take home. I really love anything that involves going out and being in the community.”

For other participants, the programs are an opportunity to engage in activities and explore hobbies. Judy King, an adult recreation program participant, enjoys the organization’s classes for her favorite hobby: dancing. King also volunteers at the support centers and helps make lunch for participants who are unable to cook.

“I love to dance,” King said. “Drama really didn’t capture my interest, but I love dancing. I also like to cook.”

Sandy Leary is another adult recreation program participant and community volunteer. Recently, she began filling Easter eggs with candy for upcoming events at local churches and fire departments.

“We have an annual Easter Egg Hunt, and I always help fill the eggs,” Leary said. “The kids love going through and eating the candy.”

Community Living, Inc. accomplishes its wide array of programming with help from about 250 volunteers and roughly 450 employees.

Community Living, Inc. accomplishes its wide array of programming with help from about 250 volunteers and roughly 450 employees. It receives funding from multiple public entities, including the Community and Children’s Resource Board [CCRB] and the Developmental Disabilities Resource Board [DDRB], and from fundraising. However, about 63 percent of its funding comes from Medicaid. According to Griffith, a 3-percent cut in state funding for Medicaid providers in 2017 adds extra relevance to events like the 18th Annual Legacy Ball. All proceeds from the event will go back to the organization’s programming endeavors and volunteer opportunities.

“It’s really a very unique event,” Griffith said. “There are a lot of galas to choose from out there, but ours is a wine dinner. We pair different wines with every course specifically selected for the food. That’s kind of the new twist on the traditional gala.”

The ball will take place on March 3 at the St. Charles Convention Center. Festivities begin around 5:30 p.m. and feature a four-course wine dinner, auctions, live music and a coloring wall for participants to decorate for the organization’s main lobby.

Looking past the gala and 40th anniversary, the organization’s ultimate goal remains to provide individuals with disabilities and their families with the services they need while raising awareness for those still searching for resources.

“The more awareness we can raise about the services we provide, the more families that can be helped,” Griffith said. “Every year, we hear of families that don’t know about our services yet are in desperate need. For families of people with disabilities, it can be like a maze. Anything we can do to get people with those resources is really what we want to do.”

To learn more about Community Living, Inc. or to purchase Legacy Ball tickets, call (636) 970-2800 or visit communitylivingmo.org.

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