Last Thursday night, the Magnolia Civic Center’s Cine Theater was packed with supporters for New Haven Center for Special Needs Adults. Over $15,000 was raised for the school’s second fundraiser, “A Night Out for New Haven.”
In 2009, a musical fundraiser was held in order to raise money for the school to purchase a new handicapped-accessible school bus. The school was able to purchase this bus with the support of community members, individuals, businesses, churches, and other clubs and organizations. Now all 29 clients can be transported to the various events and places in town when the clients go on outings into the community.
“A Night Out for New Haven” began the year-long 50th anniversary of the school. The night featured jazz performances, the New Haven singers ‘High Hopes,’ directed by Lanta Craig, and the presentation of three awards that were given out to people in the community on behalf of New Haven.
Former Union County resident Curtis Downs was the coordinator of the event. Memphis and Oxford-based Jazz Lite Orchestra, which is an eight-piece band, performed and featured music genres like country, pop, movie songs, big band favorites, and Latin-flavored songs.
Dr. Andrew Fox, a retired University of Mississippi professor, wrote all of the musical arrangements that were performed. Examples of songs include: Almost Like Being in Love, All of Me, Any Time, It Had To Be You, Route 66, Ribbon of Darkness, and many more music standards, including those from Frank Sinatra.
The singers were the New Haven clients, Curtis Downs, Joyce Gibbs, Larry Tyler, and members from the Jazz Lite Orchestra played. Those members are Andrew Fox, Wes Walker, Billy Cole, Robert Plunkett, Wade Irvin, Benji Wilson, and David Carlisle.
All of the proceeds from the event went towards New Haven. Phil Nanney, executive director of the Union County Development Association, emceed the event.
New Haven Director Collett Cross, said, “The Night Out for New Haven series began in 2009 with a musical program to launch a fundraising campaign to purchase a handicapped-accessible bus. The community’s response was overwhelming. Funds were raised and the bus was purchased within six months.”
New Haven was chartered by the State of Mississippi in 1961. Therefore, this charity event launched a 50-year celebration of New Haven. New Albany High School Art teacher Lee Ann Thompson designed a collage of photographs and newspaper clippings from New Haven’s beginning to the present time and they were able to be viewed in the lobby entrance the night of the performance.
In conjunction with the 50th anniversary, the Board of Directors started an award program to recognize individuals and groups who have made significant contributions to New Haven.
The Faith Award was presented to Ingomar Baptist Church - Friends Group – Outreach Missions - Action Missions on behalf of Dewey Davidson. The Hope Award was given to Walmart Distribution Center #6072 on behalf of Logan Rutledge, and the Love Award was given to Johnny Davis on behalf of Frank Madden. In addition, a surprise $5,000 check was given to New Haven from Walmart DC #6072.
The individual award presented represented love, the community award represented faith, and the corporate award represented hope.
There are currently 29 clients at New Haven that attend school on a weekday basis and attend various events throughout the year in New Albany, while also expanding their creativity with arts, crafts and educational projects at New Haven.
The school was established on May 8, 1961 as a school that would provide services for special needs children because special education was not included in public education. Cross said, “The school was named New Haven because it did indeed provide a safe environment for a vulnerable population.”
In 2009, the name of the school was changed from Union County Association for Mentally Retarded and Handicapped Children to New Haven Center for Special Needs Adults.
New Haven is open for visitors at any time. Additional information about New Haven is available by calling 662-534-4289, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting their website at newhavenctr.com.