Monday Night Social Club supports special needs community

By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Wed., Sep. 21, 2011
Director of Parks and Recreation Ray Favreau talks with David Beaver, who joined the earliest version of the Social Club some 25 years ago. Photos by Martha Marteney.
Director of Parks and Recreation Ray Favreau talks with David Beaver, who joined the earliest version of the Social Club some 25 years ago. Photos by Martha Marteney.

Every Monday night, about 50 young adults with special needs meet at the South Windsor Community Center for the Monday Night Social Club. “This has grown and evolved from what I started 25 years ago,” said Parks and Recreation Director Ray Favreau. He started the Saturday morning South Windsor Adaptive Games for 10 elementary and pre-school children. “I did it at the time because there was nothing else in town, outside of the schools,” he explained.

Dan Rezende, the supervisor of the Monday Night Social Club, started with the group 25 years ago, when his son was young. As the participants of SWAG started to grow up, he saw the need to shift the focus, and started the Monday Night Social Club for teens and adults. Organized through the town’s Recreation Department, the weekly get-together is free of charge for area residents with special needs of any kind. Rezende said there are Social Club members from South Windsor, Manchester, Ellington, Vernon, Bolton, Tolland and East Windsor.

Many of the first participants, now young adults, are active members in the Monday Night Social Club. “There’s a critical need for these young adults to mingle with their friends,” said Favreau.

“I get to see wonderful friends,” said David Beaver, of South Windsor, who joined the original SWAG program when he was 6 years old.

“That’s what attracted me,” said volunteer Roseanne Sapula, “was the bonds of trust that are built together.” She noted that the social connection is important not only for the participating young adults, but for their families, as well. Sapula first became involved with the building of the Boundless Playground and now also serves as one of the coaches for South Windsor’s Special Olympics track team.

The Monday Night Social Club is supported by a wide variety of town organizations. Recently, a grant from the South Windsor Junior Women’s Club funded the purchase of t-shirts for the group, designed by Jaime Krajewski of the Recreation Department. Monday Night Social Club members wear the t-shirts on various outings and at special events, such as the Picnic in the Park, sponsored by the South Windsor Rotary Club.

On Sept. 19, the South Windsor Community Foundation’s “Rays of Hope” grant funded the performance by illusionist David Garrity. Mother Goose Children's Center, Inc. provided the snacks for the evening. After the performance, the group moved into the Teen Center for an evening of games and fun with friends.

Dawn Clauson was one of the audience members who helped Garrity during the performance. “It was fun,” said Clauson, “and I get to see my friends,” she added about the Monday Night Social Club.

Garrity, who performs at Six Flags, thought there was great audience response. “It’s fun to let myself and the volunteers create the situations we have to get ourselves out of,” explained Garrity. He also performed at the opening ceremony for the Special Olympics games.

One of the favorite Monday Night Social Club events is the Halloween Dance, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 29, at the South Windsor Community Center. For more information about the Monday Night Social Club, contact Dan Rezende at 860-644-9703.

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