Bay Ridge public service stalwart celebrates 65 years
Guild for Exceptional Children (GEC) has filled a vital gap for generations
It was simply an “exceptional” day, as the Guild for Exceptional Children (GEC) turned 65.
Holding its anniversary gala at Gargiulo’s Restaurant in Coney Island, on Sunday, October 29, the organization honored outstanding individuals for their overwhelming support and dedication to GEC’s mission of care.
Hon. Matthew J. D’Emic, administrative judge, Kings County Supreme Court, as well as a number of the company’s managers were all recognized for their efforts.
GEC, a nonprofit agency that assists developmentally disabled children and adults, began in 1958 as a community-led group of parents and friends of people with developmental disabilities, and grew outward to support children and adults alike with group homes, programming and other offerings.
Its mission statement is “to help children and adults with developmental disabilities lead dignified and satisfying lives and reach their fullest potential all while assisting families in every step of their journey.”
D’Emic was the first to graciously accept his award, noting, “I can’t believe I’ve been involved in the Guild for 50 years. … But in the end, I got more than I gave,” he told the crowd of 350 strong.
GEC managers honored included Francine Boyle, Martini Residence and Supportive Apartment Number Three; John Downey, Quinones Residence; Veronica Iqbal, Olga’s House; Anthony Martinez, Supportive Apartment Numbers One and Two; Siobhan Masterson, English Residence; Concetta Musolino, Santangelo Residence; Stephen Neave, Sedita Residence; Ellen Paternostro, Conklin Residence; Ruthlyn Solomon, Cassone Residence; Maryann Sullivan, Charter Residence; Elizabeth Tiedemann, Sichenze Residence; Despina Xenakis, Narrows Residence; and Jessica Young, DeFelippo Residence.
State Sen. Iwen Chu, who was also in attendance at the event, praised GEC for its “tremendous and amazing work.”
And Councilmember Ari Kagan said the Guild “deserves our support forever,” adding that “anyone who dedicates even one day to helping our exceptional children deserves a round of applause.”
Joe Riley, GEC’s executive director and CEO, told the Brooklyn Eagle that when he started working weekends at the Guild back in 1986 as a Direct Support Professional, he fell in love with how important the work is.
“I truly believe that serving others brings out the best in us, in who we are; we are at our best when we are serving others,” Riley said. “My expectations for this event are for people to leave here saying ‘wow, GEC is a great organization, and I want to do everything I can to support it.’”
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