“Imagine a Good Life” was the theme of The Arc Mid-South’s 18th Annual Gala. This chosen theme, which mirrors The Arc Mid-South’s desire to increase literacy, independence, and employment for all those who possess intellectual and developmental disabilities, was unmistakably present in all aspects of the fundraising dinner, held at The Hilton Memphis on Saturday, September 21, 2013.
Janeen Gordon, known for her dual roles as Traffic Anchor on WMC-TV and as radio host on 103.5 FM, was our moderator for the evening. She kept attendees entertained with lively banter while she introduced the different elements of the evening, such as Gordon’s television colleague, Pam McKelvy. McKelvy shared inspiring moments, from her journey with breast cancer to her son's diagnosis with autism, as guests enjoyed their dinner.
Guests truly enjoyed a “good life”while mingling and bidding on items during the silent auction, items which included original artwork, restaurant certificates, ‘staycations’, and tickets to many local attractions. The live auction was equally lively with P. A. Bomani working the bidders on items such as a FedEx Cup Nike golf bag and rounds of golf at Germantown Country Club, a 50" LED HDTV compliments of Sam's Club, and a Samsung Odyssey phone from Verizon Wireless. One of the more unique auction items was dinner with Mayor and Mrs. Mark Luttrell courtesy of Elfo's Restaurant in Germantown.
The entertainment for the evening consisted of musical selections by The Arc Angels, students from The Arc Mid-South’s Career Development and Job Placement program. “ABC” and “This Is It” made famous by the King of Pop, the late Michael Jackson, were sung with enthusiasm as their voices silenced the room.
The songs showcased how the students are learning to become independent through their studies in the classroom. “It was great to experience first-hand, the ambiance that was set as the students provided selections that were both inspiring and motivating. It always brings great joy when the mission of The Arc is reflected in the talents and tenacity of the students enrolled in our program. The clients that we serve are why we must continue to 'Imagine a Good Life!'” said Carlene Leaper, Executive Director of The Arc Mid-South.
L- R : Carlene Leaper, Executive Director; Maurice Williams, Community Service Award Winner; and Merle Smith, President of the Board of Directors
Lisa Shurden from Cigna-HealthSpringand Judge Kathleen Gomes presented awards to deserving individuals in recognition for their work in the community for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Tom and Frances James were recipients of the Advocacy Award, Carolyn Cowans was the recipient of the Humanitarian Award, Maurice Williams accepted the Community Service Award, and Warren Mack received the Empowerment Award. Each of these individuals, as well as all the award nominees, have paved the way as a spokesperson, an advocate, and a leader in the disability community.
L-R: Maurice Williams, Community Service Award Winner; Warren Mack, Empowerment Award Winner; and Frances and Tom James, Advocacy Award Winners
Our sincere thanks to Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems Inc., FedEx, Sam's Club, Walmart, Church of the Holy Spirit, Enterprise, Mapco/Delek, and many others for their support of our Gala and our Creating Independence...Supporting Literacy initiative for adult education classes for individuals with disabilities. While literacy remains an important challenge for all within our society, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are at a far higher risk: 70 percent of people with the lowest literacy skills have no full or part time job and 43 percent of people with the lowest literacy skills live in poverty. Unfortunately, illiteracy and crime are closely related. The Department of Justice states: "The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure." This correlation appears to be accurate, as over 70 percent of inmates in America's prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.
Thanks to our supporters, The Arc Mid-South assisted over 1,350 people with services, education and advocacy last year. In addition, the community participated more than 5,000 times in workshops, family activities, classes, and advocacy programs. About 70 percent of those served by The Arc were from multicultural communities and almost 100 percent were from households at or below federal poverty guidelines.
For more information on the programs and services provided by The Arc Mid-South, please call (901) 327-2473. Thank you for supporting The Arc Mid-South.
Highlights from Gala2013
Carlene Leaper, Executive Director; Mrs. Ruby Wharton and Mayor A. C. Wharton, Jr.; Board Member and Probate Court Judge Kathleen Gomes
Lasharlette Jones, FedEx Express Program Management Advisor; Shannon Brown, Sr VP at Fedex and Honorary Gala Chairman; Florence Howard, Board Member
The following organizations support The Arc Mid-South’s
Creating Independence . . .
Supporting Literacy Initiative