Bay Ridge

Colonial Club welcomes guest speaker Paul Cassone of the Guild for Exceptional Children

Club Secretary Jim Clark receives distinguished award

January 24, 2017 By John Alexander Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Colonial Club member Jim Clark (right) receives the 2016 Realtor of the Year Award from Maiorano Serafino. Eagle photo by John Alexander
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The Colonial Club opened its meeting on Thursday with club Secretary Jim Clark announcing that member Peter Killen had no announcements to make. Killen took the microphone and said he did in fact have an announcement to make, and it was that he really didn’t have any announcements for this meeting.

The first order of business was to bestow Clark with a plaque naming him 2016 Realtor of the Year. Clark, a longtime member of the Brooklyn Board of Realtors was genuinely surprised by the presentation. Club member Serafino Maiorano presented Clark with the award, calling Clark a real estate activist in the community for many decades, and reflecting upon his early years in the Police Department. The award recognized Clark’s civic service to his community, Bay Ridge and Brooklyn at large.

The guest speaker was Paul Cassone, executive director and CEO of the Guild for Exceptional Children. Cassone, a former resident of Bay Ridge, has worked at the Guild for 12 years. He described the Guild as an agency that serves people with developmental disabilities. He started working for the Guild right of high school, first as a volunteer and then as a full-time employee.

Cassone presented a brief history of the Guild, which was founded in 1958 by parents who wanted to provide better lives for their children with special needs. Thanks to the help of then-state Sen. William Conklin and founding parents Pauline Argo and Olga DeFelippo, the Guild became a nurturing environment for people with developmental disabilities.

Cassone, whose brother has special needs, explained how the Guild trains people with needs to learn and develop a vocational trade to hopefully find a job somewhere. He explained that the Guild has helped employ its members in hospitals, food services and office work. The Guild’s basic philosophy is to try to encourage people to be as independent and productive as they can be.

He said the goal is for society to see these people for the things they can do and not for what they can’t do. The mission of the organization’s founders and board of directors was to keep the Guild in one geographic location, so that it would become an integral part of the neighborhood.

The Guild currently has 17 group homes in the neighborhood and offers quality residential services to the 123 adults living in them. A new initiative for the Guild is actively trying to market products made by members of the Guild, including various ceramic pieces.

The meeting concluded with no further announcements from Killen.  

The Colonial Club holds its bimonthly meetings at Gino’s Restaurant at 7414 Fifth Ave. in Bay Ridge.


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