The Center of Family Love and the Oklahoma Knights of Columbus hosted the 5th annual Gift of Love Gala on June 16 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. The event benefits individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities who reside at The Center of Family Love in Okarche.
This year’s gala achieved two record-breaking milestones for the center. The event sold out early with more than 800 guests attending and the gala raised more than one million dollars.
Located in Okarche and founded in 1981 by members of the Oklahoma Knights of Columbus, The Center of Family Love has empowered hundreds of adults with disabilities to live productive and meaningful lives. The center provides one of the most innovative educational, vocational and residential programs in the nation, pioneering new approaches in the field of disabilities, and is recognized in Oklahoma a pre-eminent and model community.
The Center of Family Love provides homes and careers for 130 residents who live with disabilities that include cerebral palsy, autism, muscular dystrophy, Down syndrome, development delays, spinal injuries and intellectual disabilities.
“The outpouring of generosity from our community is incredibly humbling to witness,” said Debbie Espinosa, chief executive officer for the center. “There aren’t enough words to adequately express how much we appreciate our donors for their gifts. Their support enables us to provide for our residents and will impact generations of people who live with special needs. On behalf of the residents of The Center of Family Love, I am proud to be their voice, and to thank you for all that you do for them.”
This year, the Center of Family Love honored Most Rev. Edward J. Slattery, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Tulsa, who received the organization’s Carol and Bill Brown Outstanding Community Ambassador Award. Patricia Loosen, co-founder of the Center of Family Love and long-time advocate for those with intellectual disabilities, received the Harold J. Wittrock Humanitarian Award.
“These are God’s children and there is a reason that we have to get involved,” said Patricia Loosen, co-founder of The Center of Family Love and an honoree. “This could happen to any of us, to have a handicap, and suddenly reality catches on. Come and visit. It’s a place of joy, friendship and lots of bear hugs!”
This year’s gala emcee was Malcolm Tubbs, on-court emcee for the Oklahoma City Thunder and feature reporter for Fox 25 Morning News.
The Center of Family Love’s mission is to provide quality lifetime care to individuals with developmental disabilities. Visit www.centeroffamilylove.org.