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The Lake News Online
  • Annual dinner makes those with disabilities the stars

  • For seven years, the Camden County Developmental Resources agency has been hosting a Christmas dinner for their consumers and their families so that they too can share in the joy of the season.
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  • The holiday season is a time of gathering with family and friends. Many families share a meal and enjoy quality time with loved ones. For seven years, the Camden County Developmental Resources agency has been hosting a Christmas dinner for their consumers and their families so that they too can share in the joy of the season.
    "This organization takes the tax dollars of Camden County citizens — real estate and personal property taxes — and turns it into services that our consumers use to better their lives," Executive Director Ed Thomas said. "Camden County Developmental Resources is an agency ran by Camden County Senate Bill 40 Board. We've been growing tremendously over the last seven years. Last year alone we went from around 140 consumers in the county to over 200 now."
    For years, the agency felt somewhat hidden. When Thomas came on board in March 2012, he worked hard to get the word out to the community to let residents know what the agency is all about.
    The annual dinner was hosted at the Camdenton Middle School on Mon. Dec. 9 and welcomed more than 300 guests.
    "We want to have a night where they can shine — where they can be the guests of honor," Consumer Support Director Myrna Blaine said. "Just a chance for this particular population to be the star of the evening."
    The spike in growth over the past year has brought new opportunities for the agency and its consumers.
    "Case load growth has brought additional revenues to the county that we can put back into the consumers," Thomas added.
    This year, the agency has created a transportation program and help fund Wonderland Camp. Next year, the staff hope to move forward with a housing voucher program which allows the agency to work with landlords in the area to assist with rent for their consumers.
    "We work really hard to give these people as many opportunities and assets as we can," Blaine commented.
    One staff member, Linda Simms, has been with the agency since it opened in 2006 and has seen the programs and Christmas Dinner grow throughout the years.
    "I have seen it grow tremendously. We just want them to know that we do appreciate them. We want them to have a good time and to show them that we really care," Simms said.
    Guests enjoyed themselves at the annual dinner. Camden County Commissioner Cliff Luber and State Representative Rocky Miller were in attendance. The Grinch even made an appearance. Many went home with door-prizes donated by lake-area businesses.

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