06/21/09 — Thanks to new funding, O'Berry extravaganza is a go

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Thanks to new funding, O'Berry extravaganza is a go

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 21, 2009 2:00 AM

There will be a community extravaganza this year at O'Berry Neuro-Medical Treatment Center after all.

The annual celebration nearly became another casualty of the economic situation, until the O'Berry Foundation stepped in and saved it, officials said this week.

"Funding has changed, shifted so (money is) not as available as it was," explained Dennis Mays, coordinator of professional services.

As for other state agencies, funding sources and availability have changed drastically, especially of late. At O'Berry, money for social events for residents and staff were enhanced by such sources as the vending program -- profits from the drink and candy machines that were not part of the general fund and could be more easily accessed, Mays said.

But with the Fourth of July approaching, it was sad to realize that the event which has grown to include community attendance might be canceled, said Linda Jones from volunteer services.

"The individuals that live here look forward to it every year," she said. "We wanted to continue that tradition. It's something that their family members come to as well, and that children can come to. ... It's free to the community, and our individuals like to meet the community folks."

Since O'Berry provides more than just simple medical care -- it's also about "quality of life," Mrs. Jones said -- organizers decided to consider other funding options.

And while the Foundation is considered a separate entity from O'Berry, it has provided aid, particularly in the area of quality-of-life grants.

"We decided to see if the Foundation would be willing to support the extravaganza," Mays said. "We wrote a grant and were able to get that funding."

It wasn't too much of a stretch, since the mission of the Foundation -- which serves 67 counties -- is geared to providing family support and community services, said Monnie Lunsford, the Foundation's executive director.

"The board is made up of all non-employees of O'Berry (and) they felt like the whole purpose of a non-profit is to submit the needs that are not being met by government or other agencies," she said. "(The community extravaganza) has been going on the last three years. It's something the residents are looking forward to celebrating. It's a need, a huge need, something that they want to do."

The extravaganza will be held on the O'Berry campus Tuesday, June 30, from 7 to 9 p.m., culminating with a fireworks display.

In addition to the typical fare -- homemade ice cream, cotton candy, hot dogs and popcorn, as well as dunking booths and games -- organizers are scrambling to complete the line-up of performers.

"Generally at this point we are fixed on our entertainment," Mays said. "We're still trying to line up singing groups. We have clowns, Boy Scout and church groups coming out to do some games. What we're trying to do, too, is get some more volunteer groups to come out so that our staff will be able to work with the individuals they bring out to the event."

Community groups with special talents are especially popular, Mrs. Jones added. "We can certainly incorporate them into one of our extravaganzas, either now or at Christmas," she said.

For more information, or to volunteer, contact Jennifer Donica by Friday at 581-4572.