On November 6, 2016, I had the opportunity and privilege to attend a special event that has been a family tradition since I was a young child. On this day, Garden Center Services held its annual Fashion Show and Luncheon, themed “Diamonds are Forever” in honor of the 65th year of this event. Garden Center Services is a family-centered agency that provides services, including vocational and residential opportunities, to individuals with a variety of physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities. My Uncle Johnny, who has Down Syndrome, has been a participant in the Garden Center’s programming for over 20 years, and I have attended the annual Fashion Show fundraising event for nearly all 20 of those years. This event has grown tremendously in size, community and family involvement, and success.

Photo Above: My raffle basket winnings featuring relaxation and tea Photo credit: A. Lepkowski

Photo Above: My raffle basket winnings featuring relaxation and tea
Photo credit: A. Lepkowski

The latest “fashions” are found at Garden Center’s Second Chance Thrift Shoppe located in downtown Lemont. The thrift shop is run by volunteers and all kinds of donations are accepted. Proceeds benefit the wide range of programs offered by Garden Center. Back to the Fashion Show- the “fashions” are modeled by the fun and fabulous program participants, staff, and families. Everyone really struts their stuff and adds their personal flare with dance moves, audience interaction, and contagious smiles.

While the Fashion show is the main event, several fundraising activities are available and draw an incredible amount of financial support from attendees. There are amazing gift baskets and other goods/activities are offered as prizes through a raffle, cork pull table, silent auction, live auction, and tables selling the latest artistic creations and handiwork of program participants. I happily won two raffle baskets- a personal record- which featured two of my favorite things: tea and relaxation.

Another highlight, was the professional photographer on site to capture photos of friends and families enjoying this memorable day. My mom, Uncle Johnny and I had our picture taken at the close of the day and the smiles speak for themselves.

Photo Above: Me (right) with my mom (left) and my Uncle Johnny (center) celebrating at the Garden Center Services 65th Annual Fashion Show and Luncheon

Photo Above: Me (right) with my mom (left) and my Uncle Johnny (center) celebrating at the Garden Center Services 65th Annual Fashion Show and Luncheon

To learn more about the programs, services, and events at Garden Center Services, visit gardencenterservices.org.

Find location, hours, and general information for the Second Chance Thrift Shopped at gardencenterservices.org/businesses.