Guild for Exceptional Children hosts eighth annual beer tasting, buffet fundraiser

There was something good brewing at the eighth annual beer tasting and buffet at the Marine Park Golf Course on Friday, March 1.

The highly anticipated event is held each year to raise funds for the Guild for Exceptional Children (GEC). This year’s proceeds will be directed towards the GEC’s building fund, which supports needed renovations to the Guild’s residences and programs.

The GEC was founded in 1958 by parents, like those of former group president Paul Cassone, who wanted to provide better lives for their children with special needs. Thanks to the help of then-state Sen. William Conklin and founding parents Pauline Argo and Olga DeFelippo, the Guild became a nurturing environment for people with developmental disabilities.

Guild members attending the event included Cassone, interim Executive Director Joe Riley, Guild President Frank Sena, First Vice President Eleanor Schiano and Second Vice President Anthony Cetta along with event chairs Shannon Wade, Tom Hoefel and Paul Rutuelo.

Also at the tasting were Brian Chin, vice president and branch manager of Northfield Bank, Walter Ochoa of Right at Home Health Care Services, attorney Bob Howe and community activist Brian Gotlieb.

And there was more than beer on tap for the evening, including music and plenty of raffle prizes. Last year, the focus was on German beer and this year it was Irish brew that was being sampled.

Guild Director of Development Caroline Mansuetto served as master of ceremonies. She introduced Sena, who thanked all the guests, sponsors and donors in attendance. “This is an event we’ve done for a number of years,” he said. “It’s grown and we’re really happy to see everyone here on a Friday night.”

Marine Park Golf Course owner and operator Michael Giordano and Golf Course General Manager Steven Fabrizio were presented with handmade ceramic awards in gratitude for donating the golf course and all their services each year for this event.

Riley recalled the GEC’s serving the community for over 60 years and the importance of the evening’s fundraising efforts. “Several of us were up in Albany this past week because although we are government funded, the government does not give us enough money to support the work that we do,” he explained.

“They do not recognize that the people who work every day with our individuals need special skills and special training and sometimes work 20 or 24-hour shifts. Since the government does not fund us properly, we rely on the kindness of others to support the efforts of the Guild for Exceptional Children.”

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