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Fairfield Event Drives Effort To Donate Van To Bridgeport's Kennedy Center

Gary Felberbaum of Trumbull, co-president of the Probus Club of Greater Bridgeport, stands by the new seven-passenger van the club donated to Kennedy Center clients who live at the Probus House in Bridgeport.
Gary Felberbaum of Trumbull, co-president of the Probus Club of Greater Bridgeport, stands by the new seven-passenger van the club donated to Kennedy Center clients who live at the Probus House in Bridgeport. Photo Credit: Contributed photo

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- A Bridgeport volunteer organization that has been supporting the Kennedy Center for decades has donated a new seven-passenger van for its clients.

The Probus Club, which is made up of local business leaders and other professionals, organizes activities and raises funds for the center, a rehabilitation facility for disabled children and adults.

Renee East, the center’s vice president of Community Facilities, said that Probus House, the club’s namesake, was using a high-mileage, high-maintenance vehicle that was equipped to carry only one wheelchair.

Two of the house’s six residents require wheelchair assistance, she said, which meant the van driver would have to make extra trips for the residents’ doctor’s appointments and group outings.

The new ban accommodates two wheelchairs, she said, adding that clients “love riding in the new van together.”

Co-President Gary Felberbaum of Trumbull added, “The Probus Club has an ongoing commitment to The Kennedy Center. In fact, The Probus House, a group home, was named in honor of our club in 1982 because of a multi-decade relationship of philanthropy with The Kennedy Center," he said. “Traditionally, we fund either a home improvement project at Probus House or support another Kennedy Center program that needs additional funding.”

According to Artie Weissman, co-president of the Probus Club of Greater Bridgeport, the club raised funds for the van though its annual “Bike the Beach in Fairfield” event in September.

The club’s mission is to serve people who are intellectually and physically challenged in the greater Bridgeport area.

Among the activities that volunteers have organized for Kennedy clients are: a dinner dance with a DJ; breakfast at a local diner; and a summer picnic.

Weissman said that nonprofits like the center have been “challenged by state funding cuts, especially over the past five years.”

This makes donations from local groups “vital,” he said.

The center said it serves 2,400 individuals a year and operates 30 community experience programs; 16 group homes; an industries program composed of six businesses; supported and competitive employment and job placement services; a family support and respite service; travel training; and a variety of children’s programs.

For more information, visit www.thekennedycenterinc.org.

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