It was 45 years ago that my mom, Henrietta Bell, started the Nite Owls program. My sister was in her teens when my mom realized she would need a peer group for social activities to meet her developmental differences as she aged. This was in 1964.
My mom approached the Jewish Community Center on Hermann Drive to start this social group. Initially called The Hikers, they evolved into The Nite Owls since they began to meet in the evenings to accommodate after school activities and employment. They have been meeting on Tuesday evenings ever since. My mother and I are grateful that the J has seen the Nite Owls as a social responsibility to the community and has been there since day one.
I have taken the responsibility as the adult liaison between the J staff and the parents. The Nite Owls are all adults with special needs. I see how everyone lights up when they know that they are coming to the J to see good friends. Harry, Danny, Paul and Mark have been there since the beginning. Newer members have arrived since Celebration Company came on the scene. I see past staff leaders like Rona, Rachel, & Jamie who, still in their hearts of hearts, are connected to this special group of people.
Adults with disabilities often do not get out as much as the rest of us. This is an evening social activity that allows them to use their social skills and participate in the programs that are planned for them. Coming to J performances, doing art, participating in activities outside the J such as restaurants, ball games and theatre gives them a sense of community and normalcy.
The best is that you can also see the love that they have for each other. In honor of my mother and sister, Evelyn, it is important to keep the Nite Owls going. There are many ways for the community to get involved.
- Tell our story and let those with special needs know that the Nite Owls exist for them.
- Volunteer to help at a program.
- Donate to the Nite Owls Fund so that we can continue to offer programs at little or no cost to the participants.
For more information about the Nite Owls or to get involved, please contact Carol Silverman at firstname.lastname@example.org.