The Guild for Exceptional Children (GEC) held its annual autumn gala on Friday, Oct. 26 at El Caribe Country Club in Mill Basin.
GEC, a nonprofit agency that assists developmentally disabled children and adults, honored some of Brooklyn’s most distinguished civic leaders. WABC-TV/ “Eyewitness News” anchor Ken Rosato served as master of ceremonies.
GEC Compliance Officer Caroline Mansuetto welcomed guests, including elected officials, community leaders and members of the GEC community.
GEC Executive Director and CEO Paul Cassone called it a memorable event. “We at the Guild are most appreciative of our community support and recognize that we could not succeed without it,” Cassone told this paper. “We are also thrilled at the turnout of nearly 400 for our 60th anniversary gala. Funds that we raise will be directed to our ‘Building Fund’ which pays for renovations – large and small – that help make our facilities more accessible, comfortable and user-friendly for the people in our care.”
This year’s GEC Legacy Award was presented to the Charles A. Mastronardi Foundation, a philanthropic foundation whose purpose is to support education, health, social and human services.
The GEC Founder’s Award was presented to noted news journalist and television host Geraldo Rivera and the GEC’s Philanthropic Award was given to the Rotary Club of Verrazano, a civic organization that performs good works throughout the community.
Rotary Club of Verrazano member Ralph Succar said it was a great honor and pleasure for his organization to be recognized. “Tonight was a special night for me as an ambassador to the Guild and a member of the Rotary,” Succar said. “The Rotary demonstrates an outstanding commitment to community and service to people in need. It’s truly an honor to be recognized by the Guild.”
Other award recipients were William Slow, a former educator and community activist for people with special needs; Bernard Carabello, an advocate for individuals with developmental disabilities in New York since 1972; Barry Cohn, who began his career with the GEC in 1980 before retiring in 2005; attorney and civic leader Peter Ferraiuolo; former City Councilmember Vincent Gentile and state Sen. Marty Golden.
“On behalf of my family and the community, I was extremely humbled to be recognized by the Guild for Exceptional Children at their 60th Anniversary celebration,” Golden told this paper. “The Guild has helped pave the path to care for our developmentally disabled to grow up, be educated, live independently and age with dignity and respect. May God bless all those involved and may the organization be filled with many more years of continued success.”
Gentile called it an honor to be recognized by the GEC. “Sixty years ago there were those in our community who were focused on bringing maximum human fulfillment to the lives of the developmentally disabled from youth through adulthood,” he said. “That focus 60 years ago formulated what we know today as the Guild for Exceptional Children and it began a six-decade journey improving the lives of the people they serve.”
Former GEC Award recipient John Quaglione echoed Golden’s sentiments. “The turnout, the energy and the love in the room at the Guild for Exceptional Children’s 60th anniversary says all you need to know,” Quaglione said. “The GEC is beloved and treasured by so many, for they have truly made the quality of life for so many so much better over the years. Each and every day, they give hope and serve a truly noble mission.”
Former GEC President Arlene Rutuelo was extremely pleased by the large attendance. “It truly warms my heart to see almost 400 of the Bay Ridge community attending our 60th Anniversary Guild for Exceptional Children Gala this year,” Rutuelo told this paper. “Children and adults with developmental disabilities are celebrated, genuinely loved and cared for. I am so proud to continue working with this board and administration to build brighter futures for each person in our care.”