SPEC of Rock Island Vicariate honored for service to people with disabilities

Shown with the Evelyn Colberg Memorial Award on April 20 are leaders of Special Persons Encounter Christ of the Rock Island Vicariate including, from left: Don Healy, SPEC board member and volunteer; Linda Matheis, SPEC director; Cassandra Martin, SPEC participant and board member of the Arc of the Quad Cities; and Samantha Sharp, SPEC president. (Provided photo)

MILAN — Special Persons Encounter Christ (SPEC) of the Rock Island Vicariate received the Evelyn Colberg Memorial Award at the first Catalyst Awards Night hosted by the Arc of the Quad Cities on April 20 at the Camden Centre here.

The Arc is an organization empowering people with disabilities “to believe in their own unique abilities and achieve their full potential.” Evelyn Colberg was a founding member of both the Arc and SPEC in the mid-1970s.

The Evelyn Colberg Memorial Award.

SPEC’s partnership with the Arc goes back more than 40 years as it provides religious education and worship opportunities for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Many residents of Arc group homes have outlived their families and have no other network of spiritual support.  There are about 90 participants registered and they meet from October to early May at Christ the King Church in Moline.

Volunteers provide nearly one-to-one assistance and consist of staff, adult volunteers, and teen volunteers from Alleman High School, Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy, Seton and Jordan schools, as well as a few public high school students.

SPEC began with the initial efforts of Sister Cecile Baer, OSB, now living at St. Mary Monastery in Rock Island, to provide religious education and sacramental training for a small group of Catholic students with special needs.  After sharing the Evelyn Colberg Memorial award at the final SPEC Mass in April and the last SPEC Board meeting in May, the award will be presented to Sister Cecile in recognition of her efforts as the catalyst for the services SPEC has provided the past four decades.

For more information about SPEC, contact Linda Matheis, program director, at (309) 235-4614.

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