Community gathers to celebrate LARC

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Ernie Gonzalez (standing), LARC’s Executive Director, greets some of the nearly 300 dinner guests. LARC is a nonprofit organization that provides developmentally disabled adults with opportunities to live, work, and participate in community. (Photo: LARC)
by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (May 2, 2019) – Nearly 300 guests attended LARC’s Annual Appreciation Dinner on Friday, April 26. LARC, a nonprofit organization serving individuals with special needs, hosts the dinner to recognize various employees, clients, and volunteers for their accomplishments during the past year. Ticket sales and auction proceeds help fund programming and operations for LARC.

This year’s event was held at the Serbian Social Center in Lansing. Four clients were honored for significant milestones with LARC:

Penny Grill (right) accepts a plaque from Executive Director Ernie Gonzalez for her 10 years as part of the LARC community. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma);

Penny Grill had also opened the dinner with a prayer:

George Fleischman (left), a 20-year member of the LARC community, joyfully receives a plaque from Executive Director Ernie Gonzalez. (Photo: LARC)
Thomas Wise was honored for his 20 years of contributions to the LARC community. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Patrice Wolfe (left) has been a LARC client for 30 years. With encouragement from a family member, she expressed gratitude for “my mom; next LARC; and everybody.” (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

In addition, Executive Director Ernie Gonzalez expressed personal thanks—as well as thanks on behalf of LARC—to George Vincent, owner of Unlimited Service Auto in Lansing. “Big George” has been donating oil changes for LARC’s 15 vans for many years. When asked why, he explained that the vans used to come in for service on problems that could have been prevented with proper maintenance. So he told LARC to bring them to him. “I like the work that you do,” he said. Big George was honored with the Ted Sailor Humanitarian Award.

He was not able to be present at the dinner, but Executive Director Ernie Gonzalez visited him at his shop the following week and presented the plaque.

“Big George” Vincent (right) was not able to be present at LARC’s Annual Appreciation Dinner, but Executive Director Ernie Gonzalez stopped by his shop—Unlimited Service Auto—the following week to present him with the Ted Sailor Humanitarian Award. Unlimited Service Auto is located at the northeast corner of Burnham and Ridge. (Photo: LARC)

About LARC

LARC provides day training, work activities, and senior programs to approximately 100 adults with developmental disabilities from across the Chicagoland Area. Additional services include ongoing educational initiatives, work opportunities in the community through mobile work crews and individual placement, and community integrated living arrangements or (CILA’s) for 43 individuals in private housing around the community.

LARC is located at 19043 Wentworth Avenue in Lansing, Illinois.