Smiling children pasting candy buttons on paper elves, adults in Santa hats and a dancing Christmas tree filled the Van Etten Lobby with enough holiday spirit to rival Santa’s workshop. The occasion: the Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center’s (CERC)) annual holiday party on December 18.
What started out 17 years ago as a small gathering hosted by the occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT) staff at CERC's old quarters in the Rousso building has morphed into a major happening. All CERC units are involved now, from the Early Childhood Center to the School Age Unit. To accommodate its expanding attendance, the holiday party was held in Lubin Dining Hall for a few years, before moving to Van Etten—CERCs new home—three years ago.
"This was the biggest one yet!" said Shirley Goodlett, PT/OT unit coordinator, the lead organizer of this year's event. “The holiday party is a reflection of the work we do with the children all year. We work with our young clients and their parents all the way until adulthood, and watching them interact with each other you can see the progress they're making. It's very satisfying."
Many members of the Einstein community helped make the day a success, she added, especially the facilities management/engineering and housekeeping departments. Activities ranged from crafting miniature Christmas trees using ice-cream cone waffles, green frosting and M&Ms, to a bean bag toss, a bouncy castle and a dance contest.
The CERC holiday party also is a community affair. Partygoers of all ages feasted on delicious food donated by local eateries including Ann Claire’s, Patricia’s, the Pines and Good to Go–with more restaurants participating than ever before. In addition, New York Life made Amber Alert profiles, staff from the Morris Park branch of the New York Public Library read stories and gave out library cards, and volunteers handed out information about the CERC Dental Clinic.
Continuing a six-year-old tradition, members of the Iona Prep basketball team from New Rochelle brought a mural created by Iona art students. The mural became the backdrop for the corner where Santa and Mrs. Claus (adult volunteers from the CERC spina bifida group) held court with excited guests. One member of the basketball team served as DJ for the afternoon.
Paul Furst, a PT student from Drexel University who recently completed a 10-week internship at CERC, travelled from Philadelphia to help out at the party, while Dr. Hans Fray, a clinical research fellow in the laboratory of Drs. John Foxe and Sophie Molholm at CERC, manned a game where the goal was to toss balls into cups filled with colorful confetti. "The activities are designed to keep the kids moving," explained Dr. Fray. "It's nice to see them so active and having fun."
Doreen White and her son, Myron Harris, 15, were hanging out near Santa and Mrs. Claus, surveying the scene with obvious pleasure. "The CERC party is special to me because of Myron. I come for him," said Ms. White. "He has OT, PT and speech therapy every week. Here he has fun."
Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Dwight Scott, father of a CERC client, for providing the photos for this story.
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