Serving the community since 1922

Elks ring in the holiday spirit

The Wasco Elks Lodge hosted their annual party for the clients of Community Support Options. There were gifts, cookies, Santa and lots of dancing.

CSO is a program for adults with disabilities to help them realize independence within the community and with themselves.

CSO head Melissa Stockton said they service about 60 clients in Wasco. "Our mission is to provide service and support for developmentally disabled adults," she explained.

She said the goal is to assist them in living full lives and help them attain their dreams.

"The Elks are amazing. I am so grateful they were willing to come out and participate in a Christmas event to bless all of our clients with gifts," Stockton said. "It was great to see their smiles when they saw visitors from the Elks. When our clients as a group said thank you, they meant it from the bottom of their hearts. It was very heartwarming."

Iris Mejia, CSO program director, said of the festivities, "It's wonderful. We are very thankful the Elks came to do this for our clients."

"Our clients get very happy anytime anyone comes to visit. They love it, so this is extra special for them. They were overjoyed receiving their presents that they weren't expecting."

Delia Rede, CSO one-on-one aid, expressed her gratitude, "It's beautiful. Our clients were so delighted. With the music, they really got into the Christmas spirit. It was a day of fun and just incredible."

Rede continued, "You could see the look on their faces; this was Christmas for them."

Jerry Bozarth, an Elks Leading Knight, said the club aims to put the community first.

"We try to put on a Christmas party for them every year. It's always a good time around them," Bozarth said. "It's special that we are able to provide gifts. You can hear them clap and cheer, and it's great to see their smiles."

In addition to the CSO event, the Elks delivered gifts to the senior residents of Carrington of Shafter and Golden Livingcenter.

Bozarth's wife, Terri, said of the party, "They are having a blast. It makes them feel good and makes us feel good too. This is the most clients I've seen here. I was surprised that so many got up and danced. They liked the music."

Elks member Larry Jennings works for CSO and has a special connection with the clients.

"I was born disabled. Knowing what the clients are going through, I can relate. I couldn't walk until I was in second grade. I know what it is like to be bullied," Jennings shared.

He said he enjoys his work.

"It's great. All of my clients are like my people. I walk in, and they all yell for me."


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