The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

November 20, 2012

Dinner planned for those with special needs

By Samantha Pidde
Herald Staff Writer

CLINTON — This year, individuals with special needs from Clinton and DeWitt will have somewhere to go to celebrate Thanksgiving.

A special Thanksgiving dinner will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Ericksen Community Center, 1401 11th Ave. North. The dinner will include turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, green beans, salads, pies and other items.

“It's going to be like if you went to grandma's house,” Carmen Nielsen, organizer of the dinner, said.

Nielsen is the mother of a 26-year-old daughter with special needs. She is active in community organizations supporting individuals with special needs. Nielsen enjoys working with these individuals. She added that they are the most loving people.

“They're a good group to work with,” Nielsen said. “They're a lot of fun.”

Nielsen saw a need for a dinner for individuals with special needs and decided to do something about it. She said many of these individuals have no family and no place to go. She felt that they might enjoy spending time with each other.

“The community of these handicapped individuals is almost like a family,” Nielsen said.

Nielsen is happy with the support the dinner has received so far. She said the Ericksen Center has worked with her to accommodate the dinner. She has received private donations to purchase the food for the dinner, as well as volunteers to help at the dinner. Through donations, she has enough food to feed approximately 200 people. Anyone wanting to help out can arrive at the Ericksen Center between 3 and 8 p.m. Wednesday.

“There's a good outpouring of people to help,” Nielsen said. “There's a lot of good people out there, you just need to know where to shake them out of the bushes when you need them.”

Nielsen hopes to continue the dinner next year and even receive enough volunteers to hold bingo after the dinner.