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History of Simsbury-Granby Rotary Club Group Home Banquet
Sometime in 1975, Mrs. Margaret Casey from Mansfield, Connecticut (CT,) had
a son with special needs who was transferred to the Sand Hill Group Home for
children with special needs in Simsbury, CT. Margaret was the babysitter to Dr.
Phil and Mary Ann Pilon’s children. Margaret urged Mary Ann and her good friend
Carol Locandro to arrange for her son to attend Sunday mass in their St.Mary’s
church in Simsbury on Sundays. In the church, once a month, they had a social
gathering after the mass where the special needs boy also participated.
Carol’s husband Ron Locandro and Dr. Phil Pilon are both
Rotarians. They thought it would be a good idea to get the Simsbury Rotary Club
(now Simsbury-Granby Rotary Club) involved so that many more special needs
children in Group Homes could participate in a social gathering which these
children are otherwise not privileged to. Rotary Club embraced the idea and
started an annual event prior to Xmas to entertain these children from all local
Group Homes. Thus started our club’s Annual Group Home Banquet for the special
needs members from the local Group Homes. At the banquet we will have one of
our members dressed as Santa Claus, some dressed as Elves, and seasonal music performed by the local school band, and at least two presents for each participant.
The number of Group Homes and the participants grew over the
years and the children became adults. Now, over 8 Group Homes and 70 plus
members attend the banquet along with their 20 plus social service counselors
every year. Each Rotary Club member buy two or three presents from a wish list
submitted by each member to ensure that each participant would receive at least
two presents from Santa at the banquet.
At present, many of the participants are older adults and
they look forward to the event every year as do the club members. We, the club
members, have become well acquainted with some of the older members. As many of
these members have severe physical disabilities, main dish is always meatloaf,
making it easy for them to chew. No caffeine beverages are served for obvious
reasons. Santa hands out the presents to each participant. They also receive a
photo with Santa Claus to take home.
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- Submitted by K. Prasad Menon, Simsbury-Granby Rotary Club, Past Dist Governor (2010-2011) Dist 7890 (Northern CT and Western MA)
- The opinions
expressed in this make-up article do not necessarily represent the opinions of
Rotary eClub One and its editorial staff