12/01/05 — O'Berry Center enters celebration mode this month

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O'Berry Center enters celebration mode this month

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 1, 2005 1:45 PM

O'Berry Center is getting into the holiday spirit this month, with parties and entertainment planned through Christmas.

The O'Berry staff hopes to take advantage of the holidays to encourage the public to get involved in the programs at the facility.

"We want to be more of an integral part of the Goldsboro community and have the community feel comfortable coming to the center and participating with the individuals that live here," Dr. Frank Farell said. Farrell is director of O'Berry Center.

Increase community support is of great value to the patients and staff at O'Berry, especially during the holiday season, Farrell said.

"It becomes a special event for those who live her. When other people come in, they catch the excitement," he said.

"Many of our individuals really enjoy the change of pace. It provides them with the opportunity to interact with others they don't get to see every day.

"We're very proud of our center. When people come out here and see what we're doing, it helps to develop a positive perception of individuals who are severely developmentally disabled," Farrell said.

The first public event will be held Sunday morning, when the Goldwings motorcycle club parade will rumble through the center, starting at 11 a.m. Several hundred motorcyclists plan to attend the annual event, bringing presents and donations.

On Wednesday, a bonfire will be held behind the gym, starting at 6:30 p.m. There will also be singing and hot chocolate will be provided. The public is welcome to join in the fun, Farrell said. Over the year, the bonfire has become popular with staff and patients.

"I started it 15 years ago," Farrell said. "Mostly because a lot of folks had never seen a bonfire."

O'Berry will also sponsor parent groups and staff socials throughout the month. The center also plays host to a number of volunteer recognition celebrations, such as the annual volunteer luncheon for WAGES' Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions programs on Dec. 8.

One of the biggest events planned will be held Saturday, Dec. 10, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. A number of community and church groups are scheduled to provide musical entertainment, some in the gymnasium, in the chapel, and in the Knights of Columbus Park. Farrell said O'Berry officials hope attendees will not only enjoy the music but also visit the park located behind the gym.

"We have bought extra Christmas decorations this year," Farrell said. "We'll have an artificial snow-making machine to try to make it look more wintry and Christmasy."

At 8:30, he said, the evening will be capped with a fireworks display.

"This is something that most of our folks don't get to see, but also the folks in the community will enjoy," he said.

Another highlights for residents and staff is the annual Carter Christmas party on Sat., Dec. 17. The tradition began when a family who had a son at O'Berry were so pleased with the care he received that they started bringing gifts for the unit in which he lived.

"It grew from there," Farrell said. "Now they do it for several hundred people, the majority of the individuals who live at the center."

Volunteers who would like to help with the holiday preparations, or at any other time of the year, are always welcome, Farrell said. For more information, contact Linda Jones with volunteer services at 581-4565.