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Jim Causley Buick

Celebrating community talents


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Students with special needs and their teachres rehearse a song for the upcoming "Raise the Roof" talent show. photo by John Osler.

September 12, 2013
Caitlin McLoughlin's mouth stretched into a broad smile, her eyes glinted. When asked the thing she's most anticipating in the Full Circle Foundation's upcoming "Raise the Roof" fundraiser, McLoughlin, an adult with special needs, couldn't hold back her excitement.

"Be with all my friends," she said.

At "Raise the Roof," the Foundation's annual fundraiser, its largest event of the year, McLoughlin will join a group of other adult members of the Full Circle community for a song-and-bells rendition of "God Bless America." It's one of about 13 scheduled performances, and McLoughlin is one of 100 or so students from the community expected to participate in the event, which is a showcase of the students' talents.

"Our primary goal is to really celebrate the talents of our students and share that with the community and have it be a collaborative community effort," said Lindsey Kurtz, Foundation executive director. "We're working together to have a broad musical performance celebrating our students and celebrating the other talents in Grosse Pointe."

Among the other talents are Grosse Pointe South High School's Pointe Singers and Grosse Pointe North High School's pep band. Students with special needs from Ferry Elementary School and Maire Elementary School's Select Singers will also perform, the Ferry students singing "What a Wonderful World" and Maire students "A Spring in my Step" and "One Moment in Time."

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Both performances will feature a photo slideshow of Special Olympics in the background.

"We're just excited about sharing our talents with the community; our students are excited to perform," said Ann Marie Bokatzian, who works in the Grosse Pointe Public School System's transition department, helping high school-aged students with special needs in vocational training at the Full Circle Upscale Resale Shop.

In addition to the talent show, the Foundation has planned an afterglow, both as a celebration to the students for completing their performances and to raise community awareness to some of the organization's microenterprises, like the resale shop. Booths representing each microenterprise and an intern gallery of the Foundation's six adult interns will be available at the afterglow, providing information about each program and intern.

There will also be opportunities for community donations toward a specific program or intern.

"I think a lot of people don't know about all the strides we've made in the past couple of years and how we've evolved and changed," said Lauren Knill, afterglow coordinator and community education committee member. "The goal is to teach people about everything we do do. We're more than just a resale shop."

In the past few years, Full Circle has grown from the its beginnings with founder Mary Fodell and daughter, Amy, after school in the Performing Arts Center at North high school to its current status as not just a job site, but a job-training site as well.

In its efforts to provide opportunities for students with special needs to contribute and function productively in the community, the Foundation has expanded on those opportunities, offering an internship program for adults, a community garden and agriculture program, a resale shop and community campus. Kurtz said there are hopes for adding a community kitchen and laundry service in the near future.

"We have nowhere to go but up right now," she said. "We have so much excitement and so many ideas and so much generosity, too, from the community that it's exploding and we're excited about it and just trying to keep up with everything."

"Raise the Roof" is at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, at Brownell Middle School's Multipurpose Room. The afterglow follows at 8:30 p.m. in the school gymnasium.

Tickets are $20 for both events and are available at the Full Circle Resale Shop, 17006 Mack Avenue, by phone at (313) 469-6660 or e-mail at tickets.raisetheroof@gmail.com.

Kurtz advises those interested in attending purchase tickets ahead of time.

"We're anticipating a sell out," she said.

Event sponsors include Gabel Financial, William and Beverly Coats, Wolverine Packaging Company, Ron and Kathleen Wagner, Ray Laethem, MSX International, Ralph C. Wilson Foundation and Jack and Suzanne Klein.

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