DEER LAKE The Vera Perlin Society in Deer Lake celebrates 50 years of helping children with developmental disabilities.
They’ll party it up at the Deer Lake Motel in a 50th anniversary dinner and dance on Saturday night to recognize their accomplishments, but a 50-year veteran teacher of the organization says there was no partying in the beginning.
Louise Beck got the call in 1961 to come join the Vera Perlin Society’s foray in Deer Lake. Beck was a primary teacher at the time, and the society started up the next year in a classroom donated by and housed in the Masonic Lodge.
“A family here had a son with disabilities and they had to move to Corner Brook for a year to get him into a school,” remembered Beck.
“(When they got the space in Deer Lake) they called me up and asked me if I’d join them and I’ve been working with community living ever since.”
Beck said she is proud that Deer Lake has been supportive of the organization ever since its arrival in the town. The lodge gave them rooms for no charge, and the community has always been involved.
We’ve always done it
“It wasn’t just us being included in the community, we’ve always included the community in what we do,” she said.
“Like when we used to have concerts at Christmas for fundraisers, we would ask anyone with a talent to contribute, and so many would come out.”
The society was started by Vera Perlin in the 1950s.
Her work with the advisory board of the United Church Orphanage made her aware of children with developmental delays that had no opportunities for an education. She persuaded the orphanage to host a class in its basement in St. John’s.
The society received a shot in the arm when, to commemorate the Royal visit in 1959, the provincial government began giving a yearly grant of $10,000 to continue the work on a province-wide basis, which is how Deer Lake’s facility, as well as several others, were able to begin.
Today its mission is to provide services in the areas of career development, employment, community living and administration. Beck said she will continue working with them as long as she can.
The 50th anniversary of the Vera Perlin Association dinner and dance takes place this Saturday at the Deer Lake Motel, starting at 5 p.m.