On Monday, February 12, the Guild for Exceptional Children (GEC) held an event honoring the Verrazano Rotary Club for its support in purchasing a special van to accommodate Guild clients who have mobility issues.
The event was held at the GEC’s main building, 260 68th Street, where the Rotary was given a ceremonial stone on the organization’s Tree of Life, among other things.
“We honored the Rotary because they’ve been longtime supporters of the Guild and specifically most recently, they read in [the Home Reporter] about the fact we had a GoFundMe campaign for a vehicle,” said GEC Executive Director and CEO Paul Cassone. “We needed to buy vehicles that would be wheelchair accessible because we have a lot of people that are mobility challenged at this point living in our residences and coming to our day programs.”
According to Cassone, GEC’s fleet of vehicles had been diminished by age and theft. Because they are wheelchair accessible, they were difficult to replace.
“The Rotary decided they would help us out,” he said. “From the money they raised, they donated $20,000 for the vehicles. In addition to that, Carl Campagna donated an additional $5,000.” In addition, said Cassone, Assemblymember Felix Ortiz allocated $50,000, and the organization raised another $8,000 though its GoFundMe page. Altogether, the group raised enough money to purchase two vehicles fitted for wheelchair accessibility.
The event was multi-faceted, said Cassone, who told this paper that the Rotary members “were greeted by program participants who talked about importance of the vehicles and the community support.
“Without a vehicle like this, their lives were somewhat limited because a lot of them can’t access public transportation because a lot of it is not accessible,” he went on. “Having these vehicles enlarges the scope of their lives.”
There was also entertainment, with a song specially tailored to thank the Rotary members, Cassone said. Finally, the stone dedicated to the Rotary in the Tree of Life was unveiled, in honor of their generosity.
“It’s very humbling,” Cassone said. “They come from all walks of life. They’re hard workers, knowledgeable people and they choose to help raise money and support organizations. They actually do something when people need help.”