For decades, a volunteer civic organization of 30 area business leaders and professionals have been directly supporting Kennedy Center clients by organizing year-round activities and contributing thousands of dollars annually to individuals with special needs.
Most recently, the Probus Club of Greater Bridgeport, presented a new 7-passenger van for Kennedy Center clients who live at Probus House in Bridgeport, the club’s namesake.
Renee East, vice president of Community Facilities at The Kennedy Center, noted, “Previously, Probus House used a high-mileage, high-maintenance vehicle that was equipped to carry only one wheelchair. Since two of the six residents now require wheelchair assistance, the van driver would have to make extra trips for the residents doctor’s appointments and group outings.
“Through the generosity of the Probus Club, this new vehicle can accommodate two wheelchairs. Our Kennedy Center residents love riding in the new van together.”
Artie Weissman, co-president of the Probus Club of Greater Bridgeport, said, “Our club’s major fundraiser of the year is Bike the Beach in Fairfield. This popular event in September attracts up to 350 bike riders and has been in existence for over 25 years. Through the net proceeds of Bike the Beach, we were able to purchase a new van for the Kennedy Center clients.”
Co-President Gary Felberbaum added, “The Probus Club has an ongoing commitment to The Kennedy Center. In fact, The Probus House, a group home, was named in honor of our club in 1982 because of a multi-decade relationship of philanthropy with The Kennedy Center.”
“Traditionally, we fund either a home improvement project at Probus House or support another Kennedy Center program that needs additional funding.”
The National Probus Club was founded in 1921 in New Haven. A decade later, the Probus Club of Greater Bridgeport, chartered in 1939, is one of fifteen Probus Club chapters in the country. The club’s mission is to serve people who are intellectually and physically challenged in the Greater Bridgeport area.
“In addition to making annual monetary contributions to The Kennedy Center, the Probus Club organizations year-round activities for the clients to enrich their lives,” said Felberbaum. “ This gesture of goodwill really separates us from other charities.”
The Probus Club organized and funds at least three activities for Kennedy Center clients: including the client dinner dance with a dj and a catered dinner, breakfast at a local diner, a summer picnic and other activities that clients request.
“One hundred percent of the money The Probus Club raises is used to support projects or is distributed to local organizations and agencies with programs to enhance the lives of people who are intellectually and physically challenged,” said Weissman.
“Nonprofits like The Kennedy Center are challenged by state funding cuts, especially over the past five years. Generous donations are vital to our operation,” added East. “We are fortunate to have an amazing donor like the Probus Club who not only provides us with monetary support but organizes so many wonderful activities for our clients.”
The Kennedy Center, founded in 1951, is an internationally accredited, non-profit, community-based rehabilitation organization that currently serves 2,400 individuals annually. The agency actively responds to the needs of the community by offering innovative, comprehensive service options to persons with disabilities and special needs, from birth to senior years. The Kennedy Center operates 30 community experience programs, 16 group homes, an industries program composed of six businesses, supported and competitive employment and job placement services, a family support and respite service, travel training, and a variety of children’s programs. Visit thekennedycenterinc.org for more information.