Through the years, Kathleen Kennally has been spotted as the Wicked Witch of the West, Vanilla Ice and Lady HaHa. She clarifies with a mischievous grin, “Yes, not Lady Gaga.” Costumes make life + work more colorful. Her most recent appearance, as the Easter Bunny at the AEDD Sammie Gail Sanders Children’s Learning Center, delighted the students and left Kathleen filled with gratitude. She believes that community service is a civic responsibility and adds, “Nothing makes me happier.” Kathleen looks forward to another fun-filled week of fundraising for AEDD as the auxiliary presents Curtain Call later this month.
The story of Arkansas Enterprises for the Developmentally Disabled is one of empowerment. Since 1971, the AEDD programs and resources have helped individuals gain independence to improve quality of life. This unwavering commitment comes from one family’s tragedy as the organization provides hope and happiness for families across Arkansas. Kathleen was initially introduced to AEDD through friend + fellow auxiliary member Gayla Jungmeyer. Kathleen remembers, “I was immediately impressed with the fact that it is a ‘grassroots’ organization focused on serving adults and children. One of my favorite things is being around the kids; the Sammie Gail Sanders Children’s Learning Center is a preschool for kids of all abilities in preparation for public school.”
Kathleen notes that the education and employment programs that Arkansas Enterprises for the Developmentally Disabled provides are critical building blocks. “It’s a feeling of purpose, placing people in jobs and experiences that everyone deserves.” In addition to these initial opportunities, the Lacy Landers Skills Training Center offers career development preparatory activities that include resume tutorials as well as effective interview preparation and proper workplace etiquette. Arkansas Enterprises for the Developmentally Disabled also assigns a state-certified job coach who continues to supervise and monitor progress.
Proceeds from Curtain Call support the Jobs 4 You Program – providing vocational training, job coaching, job placement and transportation to adults with disabilities in Little Rock, North Little Rock and Cabot. As a result, AEDD coordinates a workforce of 350 individuals across a variety of industry sectors in Pulaski County. “Meaningful work is so important to improving confidence and self-worth, our work as the auxiliary helps make this possible.” Kathleen reflects. Curtain Call Red Carpet Premier features a dinner and Broadway-style show; performances include professional + local talents as well as AEDD clients showcasing their talents.
“We’re excited that it’s a two night event this year – the Stage Door event features a cocktail reception. It’s informal, but still has performances by a few of our clients.”
With a legacy that is 50+ years strong, the values + vision of Arkansas Enterprises for the Developmentally Disabled remain steadfast. The AEDD Auxiliary makes this mission fulfillment work possible – and even fun. Kathleen adds, “True leaders are measured by the work they inspire others to do. This is a group of dedicated volunteers who work hard, play harder and enjoy it all; making life better for others who need a little help.”