Guild for Exceptional Children marks 60 years of serving disabled
The Guild for Exceptional Children (GEC), a Bay Ridge-based nonprofit organization that provides educational and support services to developmentally disabled children and adults, recently celebrated its 60th anniversary with a luncheon where administrators renewed their commitment to helping people in need.
The celebration took place at GEC’s headquarters at 260 68th St.
GEC was founded in 1958 by a small group of Bay Ridge parents who decided to band together after experiencing a lack of available services for their developmentally disabled children.
The organization, which originally provided classes for children, has grown into a large agency that offers housing, job training, therapy and other services for hundreds of clients.
GEC officials announced that the anniversary year would be dedicated to the theme “Honoring the Past — Embracing the Present — Building the Future.”
In addition to the luncheon, the 60th anniversary celebration featured guided tours of GEC day programs, as well as tours of its various residences. GEC sponsors group homes and apartments for its adult clients.
“Eyewitness News” anchor Ken Rosato sent a video message congratulating GEC. Attendees watched the message at the luncheon.
GEC board of directors President Arlene Rutuelo and GEC Executive Director Paul Cassone spoke at the anniversary celebration. Linda Carlton, a GEC program participant, offered special thanks to GEC supporters. Patricia Romano, GEC’s associate executive director for programs, gave an overview of the organization’s programs and services.
On GEC’s website is a message from Cassone outlining the purpose of the organization.
“GEC strives to help individuals build productive lives where their skills, talents, personalities and abilities can shine. We aim to help educate communities about the many ways in which individuals with developmental disabilities can give back and make the community a better place for all,” Cassone wrote.
A highlight of the anniversary celebration came when preschoolers who attend the Carrie Mastronardi Early Childhood Education Program performed musical numbers.
GEC officials were presented with proclamations and citations from U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan, state Sen. Marty Golden, Assemblymembers Peter Abbate, Alan Maisel, Nicole Malliotakis and Felix Ortiz and Councilmember Justin Brannan.
The luncheon marked the second major event GEC has held in recent months to mark its 60th year of service.
GEC held a gala in October to honor community leaders who have been supportive of the organization’s efforts.
The award winners included Arthur Aidala, John Abi-Habib, Brian Chin, Ann Falutico, Vincent Nativo, Dr. Frank Sena and Celeste Sena.
Abi-Habib said he was honored to receive an award.
“My family and I have been involved with the mission and vision of the organization for quite some time. I am honored to be an advocate and ambassador for the Guild and its good works. It is greatly needed in our community and New York at large,” Abi-Habib told the Brooklyn Eagle following the gala.
For more information about the Guild for Exceptional Children, visit www.gec.org.
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