Twenty-two years ago, Sharon Berliner Daniel and her husband, Peter, were sitting around a table talking about doing a fundraiser for The Center for Development Disabilities of Pike County (CDD). They were musing about how to gather hundreds of people in a large banquet room.
Since Sharon and Peter were former owners of The Fork restaurant, with Peter Daniel being the executive chef, they naturally thought of food, restaurants, and lots of people. Then the idea came to them of having other restaurants donate their time, people, and food for this very special fundraiser. Ideas started to fall into place with The Best Western as a venue.
But, they thought – what about a name for the event? They wanted a name that would clearly be associated with the Center for Developmental Disabilities. And then, it came to Sharon.
What could be more organically related than CDD – Chefs Do Dinner?
And so it was and so it continues today.
The annual Chefs Do Dinner will feature 24 local restaurants providing a myriad of gastronomic delights including appetizers, seafood, grill, barbecue, and marvelous desserts (See sidebar for participating restaurants.)
The dinner is at the newly renovated Best Western Inn at Hunts Landing on Wednesday, March 25, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $75 per person if purchased before Feb. 29. After that date, tickets will be $85. They can be purchased at cddkids.org.
CDD is a not-for-profit community-based organization located at 101 Pocono Drive in Milford. They are “committed to serving children with developmental disabilities and delays in an educational setting that meets their individual needs.” They are licensed by the Department of Human Services and are a Keystone STARS 4 early learning center. They serve children from birth to school age when they can transition into kindergarten at the Delaware Valley School District.
They focus on developmental delays in cognitive, social/emotional, speech/ language, fine and gross motor, and behavioral issues. They also encourage family involvement in the center.
Some of the children are on the autism spectrum, some have cerebral palsy, and others have special educational needs. CDD provides physical, occupational, and speech therapy and reaches out to support and educate the parents.
The most important thing to know about CDD, in addition to its very qualified and caring faculty and staff, is the magic of the place. It’s a safe zone, and children and families are relaxed and happy here. The faculty is warm and empathetic. Classes are small and the teachers are welcoming. There are smiles on all the faces.
Its people make the magic
Christine Rolando, the dynamic executive director, is well-organized and knows every aspect of the place and the name of every child. Coming from an impressive background as an equine appraiser, and then being involved with equine therapy in special schools for abused children, Rolando is more than well-equipped to be at the helm of this unique place. There is a strong cohesive and supportive connection among Rolando and her staff. They are:
Vicki Mc Cabe, family support specialist, who does the intake package, does compliance, and gets state and federal funds.
Catherine Wendland, early intervention coordinator and special instructor, does both home and center-based evaluation and works with the behavioral and therapeutic support staff.
Jo Ann Donnelly, the director of programs, has a hands-on approach and oversees all the programs and curriculum.
These women are all well -versed in their respective areas and are extremely welcoming and positive as are the teachers themselves.
The parental and community support for CDD is impressive. Jay Asper, who is being honored at the CDD dinner, with the Children’s Champion Award, was a volunteer at the center for 10 years before he became a parent at the school. His twins, Timothy and Tiffany, both attend CDD, and Asper is now on the board and is the parent liaison. Asper has great respect for the school with its close and personal approach.
“The staff at CDD is the most caring group of individuals I have ever met," he said. "They are there because they care about the kids and they go above and beyond what they need to.”
The featured child at the CDD dinner is Robert Ernesto Gibbons, and his parents will talk about his experiences at the center. Students from the Delaware Valley Culinary program will also be at the dinner to help.
So, the evening will be a great celebration of CDD2.