Activity Center celebrates the season

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 6, 2003

Santa recently made an early visit to the Camellia City, much to the delight of the consumers served by the Butler Activity and Training Center (BATC). The consumers, their families, present and past BATC employees and a number of local civic leaders and honored guests were all on hand Thursday morning at the Cambrian Ridge dining room to greet the jolly old elf.

The gala occasion was the center’s annual Christmas party. Event organizer Ada Lee Williams, sister to the center’s founder, the late J.W. &uot;Mack&uot; Casey, thanked all those who had &uot;generously&uot; supported the center’s efforts to help the mentally challenged adults of Butler

County.

&uot;I don’t think anyone has ever told me ‘no’ when I have asked for help for these children…it feels so good to live somewhere where people truly care about other people. You don’t find that everywhere you go,&uot; noted Williams, who recently returned to her native county.

Mayor Dexter McLendon was on hand to present the fervent long-time mental health advocate with a key to the city, upon which Williams promised, &uot;You’ll never have to give me another one.&uot;

Williams presented a single long-stemmed rose (&uot;A gift to you from the children&uot;) to each of those present who had supported the BATC throughout its 23-year history.

Following remarks made by several of the event’s special guests, guests enjoyed a buffet luncheon.

Here comes Santa Claus

Everyone knew the jolly fat man was on his way to the dining room when entertainer for the day, Carl Tillery of McKenzie, began singing that classic tune, &uot;Here Comes Santa Claus.&uot;

The room erupted into cheers, laughter and applause as Saint Nick made his way to the front of the room, stopping to shake hands and share greetings from the North Pole along the way.

&uot;It’s been very busy back at the workshop,&uot; Santa told this reporter, &uot;but I wouldn’t miss this event for the world.&uot;

Local civic and business leaders, including Judge MacDonald Russell, Judge Steve Norman, Melvyn Stone of the Whitney Bank, Pioneer Electric’s Malloy Chandler, and many others, were on hand to help Santa pass out the presents for the center’s consumers.

&uot;I always enjoy being here – I make sure ‘Miss’ Ada Lee reminds me about the party each year,&uot; noted Russell with a grin.

All the consumers received a gift of clothing, but the present that really brought a sparkle to many eyes was the festive holiday boy or girl teddy bear each received. The stuffed animals have become a holiday tradition at the BATC parties.

As the gala event drew to a close, J.B. Hubbard, Jr., proudly posed for the camera with his well-dressed bear, another welcome addition to the young man's stuffed animal collection.

&uot;[The center] has other Christmas parties but this is ‘the big one’,&uot; explained Joy Casey, widow of the BATC founder.

&uot;Everyone gets to dress up, they get to come out to Cambrian Ridge for a wonderful lunch, and of course, there’s all the lovely gifts they receive. Mack would be so proud we are carrying on this holiday tradition,&uot; Mrs. Casey noted.