Rotary Club hosts annual ‘Picnic in the Park’
By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
South Windsor - posted Wed., Aug. 14, 2013
About 170 members and friends of South Windsor’s Monday Night Social Club celebrated Aug. 7, with their fifth annual picnic at Rotary Pavilion featuring food, music and fun provided by the South Windsor Rotary Club.
Following his friend Ryan Paggioli in thanking the South Windsor Rotary Club for their continued support, David Beaver, a founding member of the MNSC, took the microphone to add a few words of his own. “The picnic you host for us means so much to us,” he said. “You are the best.”
The Monday Night Social Club is a group for residents of South Windsor and other area towns who have special needs. The group meets every Monday night at the Community Center for an evening of game-playing and all-around socializing. It grew out of a smaller program established by Parks and Recreation Director Ray Favreau in 1986, who then served as the assistant director of recreation.
“We had a void in programming for South Windsor kids with special needs, so I organized, ran and supervised a Saturday morning program for about eight or 10 kids that was called South Windsor Adaptive Games,” said Favreau. The group, which came to be known as SWAG, enjoyed a good deal of support from the community with various organizations donating tickets for sporting events.
Favreau said that as the children got older, they were finding the Saturday morning program not quite meeting their needs, and the Monday Night Social Club for teens and young adults was formed, with another arm that focuses on the Special Olympics. “Monday night is their night at the teen center and sometimes we get as many as 45 young people who attend,” Favreau said. “It’s nice to see something so small and simple having grown to something so needed. For many of the members, Monday night is their only chance for social activity, and they really look forward to seeing their friends. The parents also chip in and volunteer their time and it’s good for them to see their children interacting with others,” he said.
Over the years Favreau’s role with the town has changed and grown, and he hasn’t been able to have the same hands-on involvement that he first had. “Fortunately, we’re blessed with some really wonderful people who help out with the program,” said Favreau. “Dan Rezende has been involved with MNSC for years and he runs the program for our department.”
“My son was involved in the program when it first started,” said Rezende. “I was working then and couldn’t give as much time, but now for the past 15 years or so I’ve been able to run the program.” Rezende said they use the Community Center on Mondays and a larger room for special events such as grinder nights, ice cream socials, and a very-popular Halloween party.
The annual Rotary Club picnic has also become a big event for the MNSC, one that members look forward to months in advance. The picnic started when MNSC volunteer unofficial outreach coordinator Roseanne Sapula reached out to the Rotary with the idea for a picnic.
“We loved the idea and it’s turned out to be something we really like to do,” said South Windsor Rotary Club President Vinnie Sica. “We’re a low-key club. We do a lot of things under the wire and raise a ton of money to give to the community,” he said. “Our goal is not to draw attention for ourselves but to the groups we help, like the Monday Night Social Club. We get great participation from our club for this.”
Sapula said she first became involved with MNSC after working with Rezende on the Boundless Playground back in 2006.
“[Rezende] invited me to a Monday Night Social Club event afterwards. I went because he invited me, but I was thinking at the time that it wasn’t really something I wanted to do, as I don’t have a child in the program,” said Sapula. “But then I ended up loving it. I love the specialness of the whole group and I love seeing the friendships formed. I love the embracement of the whole community,” she said.
“I really like this picnic,” said Beaver. “Seeing all our wonderful friends and families, and so many that come from different towns. It’s really wonderful.”