LARC and Dick Diamond and the Dusters both give back
by Katie Arvia
LANSING, Ill. (July 28, 2019) – If you’ve visited Fox Pointe this summer, you’ve probably noticed the volunteer staff members and their neon green Event Staff vests. These volunteers change from week to week, with groups like the Copper Muggers, Legion Riders, and members of TF South’s drama club coming out to support Lansing’s summer concert series. In exchange for their service, the Village makes a donation of $400 to the serving organization at the end of the season. Volunteering is an opportunity for Lansing’s groups and organizations to interact with event attenders and earn support for their own cause while serving the broader community.
At the July 24 concert, staff members and clients of LARC joined the volunteer ranks, providing a unique opportunity for concert-goers and helpers alike.
Participating in community
Despite being around for more than half a century, LARC is not well known by many Lansing residents. Founded in 1956, LARC is a private, not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to providing opportunities for developmentally disabled adults. These opportunities include a place to live, work, and participate in their community. LARC provides day training, work activities, and senior programs to nearly 100 adults, and houses 43 individuals in CILAs (community integrated living arrangements) around the community.
Twelve LARC staff and clients came out on July 24 to volunteer, while Dick Diamond and the Dusters performed for Fox Pointe’s largest crowd to date, with over 2,200 people in attendance.
“I like the atmosphere, I think they did a beautiful job remodeling this place. I’m glad it’s here. I think it’s a good mixer for the community,” said Lansing resident Carol Taylor.
Because the events are so community-driven, having LARC volunteers on hand gave residents the chance to interact with both staff and clients and potentially learn more about the organization.
Ernie Gonzalez, Executive Director for LARC, joined in Wednesday night’s festivities and explained that these opportunities tie directly into LARC’s mission: “LARC is about being integrated in the community and participating in the community. What we want to teach our clients, what we want to teach the community, is that our clients can have a disability [but] it doesn’t mean they can’t be productive, contributing citizens to society. Having some of our clients here to help volunteer at this event reinforces that.”
Echoing Gonzalez’s sentiments, Jamie Palmondon, a direct support staff member for LARC, said, “This is the community that [the clients] live in. I think that it’s a good idea to have them volunteer and work in the community that they live in.”
Later in the evening, LARC was presented with a $1,400 donation by Dick Diamond and his band, including Jeff Gajewski, aka Walter Melon, who plays the keyboard in the band and also works at LARC. The beautiful weather, the talented musicians, and the dedicated volunteers all helped create a perfect evening for concert-goers. But they weren’t the only ones having a good time.
“I came out here with my beautiful staff, Jamie, and my two best friends from LARC,” said Ira Burton (far left), one of LARC’s clients. Burton said he was excited to be working at Fox Pointe and is already looking forward to returning next year.
LARC is located at 19043 Wentworth Avenue in Lansing, Illinois.