by Andy Rausch and Joe Reinecker
This year, like always, Southeast Kansas Independent Living will be having an annual meeting and Christmas dinner. This year the event will be held on Friday, December 7th at the Parsons VFW 704 (105 E. Main). It will begin at 5:30 pm and last until 11. According to SKIL CEO/President Shari Coatney, this year's keynote speaker will be Mike Oxford, the former director of the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center and Kansas ADAPT organizer.
“Mike is about to retire, so we asked him to be our speaker, which is pretty exciting,” said Coatney. “He's a good speaker and he's good at getting people fired up.”
Last year was the first time the dinner featured a 50/50 drawing. It proved to be a success and they are doing that once again. “Hopefully this year it'll be even bigger and better,” Coatney explained. “That's fun and exciting, and it's also a way for us to help pay for the dinner. And somebody will get to go home with some extra cash in their pocket.” There will also be door prizes awarded.
As usual, there will also be an awards ceremony for deserving individuals. “We have a very diverse group accepting awards this year, and that's exciting,” said Coatney. “The board members had so many worthy nominations for people to be recognized this year, and that's a really cool thing.” In addition, there will also be elections for the Board of Directors at SKIL.
Coatney says the main point of the dinner is to provide people who don't get out of their homes very often to have a place to go and have fun at the holidays. “It offers the opportunity for socialization to people who don't normally get that,” said Coatney. “A lot of people with disabilities don't have many opportunities to let their hair down and have fun and be accepted for who they are and whatever their abilities and limitations are. They can dance and not feel uncomfortable dancing in a wheelchair.”
This year's caterer will be Mom's Best, and they will be serving roast beef, potatoes, a vegetable, and roll. “We've had them cater the past few years and it always works out smoothly,” said Coatney. “The food is good and they take care of everything, such as serving food and cleaning up afterwards.”
The event is open to SKIL customers, employees, and the general public.