BY JOE MARVILLI
A local union is hosting a prom for people with developmental disabilities, to give them the experience that they likely missed as teenagers.
On Oct. 11, Local Union #3 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) is sponsoring the Harvest Ball, a black tie and gown event for 500 people with developmental disabilities. The guests are individuals served by AABR Inc., a College Point non-profit organization serving nearly 1000 individuals with special needs across the Metropolitan area.
Although the AABR serves children with autism, the Harvest Ball, now in its 11th year, is for adults. This year’s attendees range from 18 to 83 years old. They will come from every Borough in the City to the Electrical Industry Center Auditorium in Flushing to enjoy a limousine arrival, a three-course meal and a DJ.
While the prom used to be held in one of AABR’s facilities, the number of attendees grew over the years to the point where the location had to change. The Electrical Industry Center Auditorium is owned by IBEW, which opened its doors to accommodate the guests.
The ball has also drawn more volunteers looking to create a night to remember for the guests.
“It started with a small group of members of the Local 3 and now includes their family members from their children to spouses,” Christopher Luther, Community Development Specialist at AABR, said. “Now, as the recognition of this event has grown, we’re getting more volunteers from outside the Local 3. Members of the community, including students from Queens College and St. Johns, have started volunteering. These volunteers don’t just help serve food, but also take time to dance in groups with our individuals, making them feel special.”
All costs of the event are covered by AABR and IBEW, making the Harvest Ball a free evening for the attendees themselves. Luther said he hopes the attendees get to enjoy a special, jubilant night with their peers.
“It’s a night out dancing with friends, which is something this population doesn’t usually have the chance to do. It’s the one thing they look forward to every year more than anything else,” he said. “Honestly, we hope our attendees get joy, happiness and a great memory out of this evening. Because like many people who attended their high school prom, it’s something they cherish forever. We want the same for them.”
The Harvest Ball takes place on Oct. 11 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 158-11 Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Ave., Flushing. To learn more about AABR, call (718) 321-3800.
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @JoeMarvilli.