Gala 2015

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The Arc Mid-South
65th Anniversary Celebration
20th Annual Awards and Benefit Gala

Creating Independence….Supporting Literacy

Highlights from 65th Anniversary Celebration and Benefit Gala

Click here to view the Gala 2015 Photo Gallery

Monday, November 2, 2015, marks a commemorative date for The Arc Mid-South:  the 65th Anniversary of providing services, growth and achievements of individuals with disabilities in the Mid-South.  In commemoration of this celebration, The Arc Mid-South hosted its “Creating Independence….Supporting Literacy” Awards and Benefits Gala on October 17th at the Holiday Inn University of Memphis.  Nearly 250 supporters and friends attended as community members from throughout the Mid-South area came together to celebrate and to reflect on 65 years of progression.  

Event Co-Chair Carolyn Cowans, Vice-Chair of the Family Partners Council at Methodist University Hospital, welcomed attendees along with Honorary Chair Joyce Fykes, Community Investments Manager for Cummins, Inc.  They reflected on the surmountable barriers broken and the obstacles overcome by individuals with disabilities during The Arc’s 65-year history.

The highlight of the afternoon was Ron Childers, Chief Meteorologist for WMC Action News 5, who was emcee for the festivities bringing pleasantries and laughter.  The ambiance of the candlelit room was enhanced by Bill Hurd whose “Live Memphis Jazz” band provided the sounds of triumph through their musical preludes.  The event didn’t just stop there….as the Kingsbury High School Color Guard presented the flag, accompanied by a Kingsbury  vocalist singing a cappella as she gave homage to the National Anthem.  

The 65 years was most celebrated through the testament of vibrant and dynamic keynote speakers, Rachel and Brian Marotte.  They gave a passionate presentation about their sons, their life struggles, challenges, and successes as they transitioned into adult hood.  In addition to honoring the agency’s history of achievement, they spoke of seeing the agency evolve from a small grassroots organization with one program in 1950 to a multi-faceted organization serving over 2000 in the year 2015.    

The true essence of the event is to recognize those laureates in attendance that plays an important role in The Arc Mid-South’s success.   Among those recognized with various awards were the following:  Diana Bedwell, Vice President, Community Impact, The United Way of the Mid-South, was presented the Community Partner Award for decades of support as a Corporate Partner; Martha Lopez, Family Educator and Project Assistant, STEP, was presented the Award of Excellence in Advocacy and Diversity; Event Co-Chair Shirley Cobbins,  Vice President of Client Relations, Universal Commercial Real Estate ,was presented  the Volunteer of the Year Award; Terrence Green, Board Member was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award for years of service to The Arc Mid-South and individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families; and The Hershey Company was presented the Award of Excellence in Employment.

The theme, “Creating Independence…Supporting Literacy” was solidified as five individuals supported by The Arc Mid-South were presented awards for their Outstanding Achievement in maintaining employment for a period of 5 to 10 years.  This was truly a celebration as one of The Arc’s very 0wn students sang the afternoon’s theme song, “It’s a Celebration.”
The event was a huge success as silent auction items were displayed and bid on throughout the afternoon.  Items ranged from jewelry, to an array of gift certificates from area restaurants, hotels, museums, day spas, resort packages, family fun packages, a 6 month household membership from the YMCA, and an array of other items. There was also a live auction of items, including a 50” Vizio E-Series LED Smart HDTV, a Vacation Package to Panama, and a Pink Ceramic Watch. 
The Arc Mid-South’s Executive Director, Carlene Leaper, Board Members, and staff would like to thank the continuous supporters that have played a significant role in our agency’s progress and success, and thus have provided us with a reason to celebrate. Without generous donations, from numerous sources, 65 years of service, The Arc’s Annual Gala, and “Creating Independence….Supporting Literacy” would not have been attainable.     

Thank you to all who attended and supported our Gala. We look forward to another 65 years of growth and achievement for The Arc and the individuals we serve.  The contributors to our success included the Gala’s guests and sponsors, companies and individuals who submitted ads for the Commemorative program booklet, those who made monetary donations and contributed items for the event’s silent and live auction.  A special thanks to our Honorary Chair and Major Sponsor --  Shannon Brown, VP and Chief HR Officer of FedEx -- and Honorary Chair, Sponsor, and Honoree, Joyce Fykes.



Self Foundation
William King Self, Jr. Trustee



Highlights from Gala 2014

The Arc Mid-South’s 19th Annual Awards and Benefits Gala

The Arc Mid-South’s premiere fundraising event of the year was hosted at the Hilton Memphis on October 18th.  Earmarked annually, this premiere event received support from community leaders throughout the Mid-South…from Mayor Wharton, to Representative Johnnie Turner, to Probate Judge Kathleen Gomes. This auspicious occasion celebrated the achievements of individuals with disabilities, and the impact that individuals and organizations serving as conduits for individuals with disabilities have made.

As Honorary Chairmen, Shannon Brown, Senior Vice President/Chief H/R & Diversity Manager, FedEx; and Fred Lamb, Quality and Compliance Manager, Johnson and Johnson were joined in the evenings welcome alongside Event Chair, Florence Howard, Board Member; the event was kicked off with a realization that individuals with disabilities have far excelled past the expectations of the previous stigmatism. 

Community members from all walks of the Mid-South came together to congratulate, and to celebrate the abilities of individuals with disabilities through special endorsements made on behalf of The Arc Mid-South…Carla Brouwer, The Hershey Company; Gary Smith, DIDD, West, TN; and Carolyn Cowans, Advocate gave astounding revelations as they expressed congratulatory remarks. 

Flo Roach, a woman of ‘many hats’, actress, playwright, director, producer, singer, poet, and songwriter, served as Moderator for the evening’s festivities.  Flo Roach’s pleasantries couldn’t have made the event livelier. 

As guests enjoyed the evening, and the ambiance of ‘Live Memphis Jazz’ featured by the Bill Hurd trio, silent auction items were displayed, ranging from jewelry, to an array of gift certificates from area restaurants, hotels, museums, day spas, and a 6 month household membership from the YMCA.

The evening didn’t stop there!  P. A. Bomani, provided laughter, as he coerced the guests with his charm during a live auction that included 2 Roundtrip Airline Tickets, compliments of Southwest Airlines, and a 50" Vizio E-Series LED HDTV from Sam’s Club, just to name a few.

The highlight of the evening consisted of a community recognition awards ceremony, recognizing individuals that have made outstanding contributions toward Creating Independence…Supporting Literacy.  Honorees of the “Empowerment Award” were Christina R. and LaToya B., students in The Arc Mid-South’s Life, Education, Training, and Skills Program, recognized for their persistence in taking control of shaping their lives in a purposeful manner, despite having a disability. 

Other honorees of the prestigious community awards recognized for their outstanding community service, partnerships, and extraordinary leadership in the lives of individuals with disabilities included Gary Smith, DIDD; The Hershey Company; and Representative Johnnie Turner. 

Harriet Tubman wrote, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”  The Arc Mid-South recognized a dream that began in 1950 with a group of parents and civic leaders that saw a need.   That dream has far exceeded as students with disabilities gain their independence through attaining their first High School Diploma, and their first means of employment.

“Creating Independence…Supporting Literacy” is all about witnessing a student’s excitement as their dream comes into fruition, says Carlene Leaper, Executive Director.  “An achievement that many individuals may take for granted.” 

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