Riverside residents host ‘awesome’ party
Riverside Foundation clients, Mary Sheridan (Left) and Eugene Kuranda, (Right) dance with Santa during Friday's Christmas party at the foundation's work and activity center. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 18, 2013 1:15AM
LINCOLNSHIRE — Of all the Christmas parties thrown around the northwest suburbs last weekend, the merriest of them all was likely the first, and it needed no eggnog.
Two non-profit organizations threw together an affair for the area’s adults with developmental disabilities that resulted in singing, dancing and genuine holiday revelry.
“They are loving this,” said Darlene George-Craig, activity coordinator for the Riverside Foundation, which hosted the party at its Vernon Hills facility.
“Oh, I know,” replied Erica Sudakoff, executive assistant of Protected Tomorrows, which helped Riverside put the event together.
“They’re not used to having so many guests,” George-Craig continued, watching a crowd of around 50 doing a conga line past the sound system.
“This is just awesome,” Sudakoff said.
The Riverside Foundation, based in Lincolnshire, serves adults with developmental disabilities, providing residences and in some cases jobs for them. Protected Tomorrows, also headquartered in Lincolnshire and advocating for those with special needs, contacted Riverside a few weeks ago with an idea — the Protected staff wanted to forgo their usual, catered Christmas party and spend the budget instead on a celebration with Riverside’s residents on Friday.
“The clients are absolutely thrilled to have guests,” said George-Craig, and the party that resulted brought together 120 adults with special needs from Riverside, the Mount Saint Joseph care facility in Lake Zurich and a few who live with their families in nearby communities.
The three-hour activity included an appearance by Santa Claus, ornament-making, cookie sharing and more singing and dancing. About a dozen Protected Tomorrow staffers came dressed up in Christmas-style outfits, including a wrapped present, angels and elves.
The music switched to the Chicken Dance, and the merriment rolled on. As they talked, a Riverside resident walked up to the pair and issued them free hugs.
“By the looks on everyone’s faces, I’m sure we’ll be doing this again,” Sudakoff said, already thinking about forgoing the 2013 Christmas party.
But the two admitted that, after this party, they might need a sugary cookie to get them through the rest of the day.
“We’re going to be exhausted after this,” George-Craig said.
“Yeah, we’re planning on going back to the office and not doing anything,” Sudakoff answered.