Devereux hosted the fourth annual “Evening in Italy” for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the Goleta Valley Community Center on May 12.

Besides individuals from Devereux’s residential, day and supported-living programs, men and women who receive services from the Alpha Resource Center, PathPoint, People Creating Success and UCP/Work Inc. enjoyed the free festivities.

Devereux uses donated funds specifically designated for recreation activities to support this annual party for more than 100 attendees.

After each person was welcomed to the party with a name tag and Italian flag-colored beads to wear, beverages were served by volunteers while the guests enjoyed easy-listening music by DJ Steve Martin.

A lasagna dinner with trimmings followed served by Devereux staff volunteers, along with students Ve Cartier, Stacey Matsuda, Vickie Vien and Jessus Zaragoza from the UCSB Community Affairs Board. The time and energy these students bring to the party is key to its success.

Some added excitement this year included a visit by Goleta Mayor Margaret Connell, Mayor Pro Tempore Ed Easton, City Councilman Michael Bennett and Goleta Valley Beautiful board member Phebe Mansur. After dinner, they all joined in to sing “That’s Amore!” and dance to “We Are Family,” which is an upbeat number to get the real dancing started as part of the “Devereux Family Tradition.”

“We are thrilled to be able to offer this dinner-dance as an annual community-based social activity to those who have far too few of these types of opportunities in their lives,” Devereux California Executive Director Amy Evans said. “It’s just a simple evening of friendship, food and fun that all the folks seem to really look forward to each year.”

Established by Helena Devereux in 1912 in Pennsylvania and in 1945 in Santa Barbara, Devereux has provided services to thousands of individuals with a wide range of disabilities, from mental retardation and neurological disorders, including autism, to emotional behavioral disorders and mental health issues.

Devereux California provides adult residential and day programs on its Santa Barbara campus, and independent and supported-living services for adults in the communities of Goleta, Santa Barbara and Lompoc, serving a total of 80 individuals with developmental disabilities.

As the largest nonprofit provider of behavioral health care in the country, Devereux operates 15 centers in 11 states, with about 6,000 staff serving 15, 000 individuals in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.

— Janis Johnson is the manager of external affairs for Devereux California.