Sunday, July 22 , 2018, 4:00 am | Fair 66º

 
 
 
 

People of All Ages, Abilities Kick Up Their Heals at Devereux’s ‘Evening in Italy’

Goleta's Ed Easton, aka 'The Dancing Mayor,' gets in on the fun

Last Thursday, 120 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their staff and volunteers were singing “That’s Amore!” and dancing up a storm at the Goleta Valley Community Center.

Hosted by Devereux California, the fifth annual “Evening in Italy” event provides a free venue for individuals served by Devereux (plus the Alpha Resource Center, PathPoint and UCP Work Inc.) where they can enjoy an Italian dinner, socialize and, most of all, dance to their favorite tunes played by volunteer DJ Steve Martin.

Along with Devereux staff volunteers, a group of community members called “The Dancing Divas and Dudes” served the meal, then encouraged the more reticent guests to get out on the floor and boogie with them.

Goleta Mayor Ed Easton attended the event, where he has become known as “The Dancing Mayor” after cutting a rug with participants for two years in a row.

The Dancing Divas and Dudes, from left, Phebe Mansur, David Gonzales, Lola Paredes, Olga Mesa, Linda Gregory, Ed and Jerma Menders served up more than 100 meals — and a ton of fun.
“The Dancing Divas and Dudes,” from left, Phebe Mansur, David Gonzales, Lola Paredes, Olga Mesa, Linda Gregory, Ed and Jerma Menders served up more than 100 meals — and a ton of fun. (Devereux California photo)

The party is designed for folks who don’t always have many opportunities to socialize and dance.

“It’s so good to see these folks who are supported by Devereux and other providers come together and have such a wonderful time,” said Duane Felender, a longtime Devereux volunteer who wouldn’t miss helping out at the event. “As a volunteer, I think it’s a great opportunity to get to know others who have different abilities by sharing the joy of music and dancing. It’s truly life-changing to experience this party — what a diverse, happy group of people!”

Devereux California provides residential, day, supported living and independent living services to 80 people in the Goleta, Santa Barbara and Lompoc areas. Established by special-education pioneer Helena Devereux in Pennsylvania in 1912, Devereux is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and is the largest nonprofit provider of behavioral health care services in the country.

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

Devereux California Executive Director Amy Evans presents a certificate of appreciation to Goleta Mayor Ed Easton.
Devereux California Executive Director Amy Evans presents a certificate of appreciation to Goleta Mayor Ed Easton. (Devereux California photo)

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