On April 3, the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center hosted the annual Arc of the Glades’ Awards Luncheon. Special guests were Arc of Florida President Michelle Poole and Trish Blash, the first executive director of the Arc of the Glades.
Blash, who led the organization from 1977 to 1982, provided a historical perspective and shared memories of her service. This year’s program recognized founding members Sandra Chamblee and Evelyn Johnson with the Founders’ Award.
Loxahatchee resident Elizabeth “Liz” Cayson was the 2013 Director Emeritus recipient. Director Emeritus status was created in the Arc’s bylaws in 2011 to recognize significant contributors to the fulfillment of the Arc’s mission through governance, leadership, dedicated committee work and fundraising as advocates on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities. Arc of the Glades President Richard Abedon provided a biography of Cayson. She has served as community relations specialist with the Health Care District of Palm Beach County for 18 years. Cayson also serves as a member and leader of numerous community organizations, including president of the Pahokee Rotary Club, the Citizens Advisory Council for Palm Beach County and the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County.
Cayson has been recognized for her outstanding leadership and service in many community, civic and governmental organizations. Her recognitions over the years include the Woman of Accomplishment Award from Palm Beach State College, the Volunteer of the Year award from the Palm Beach County Health Department and the Rotarian of the Year award from the Pahokee Rotary. In June 2010, Cayson rescued an eight-month-old baby, for which she received numerous awards for heroism, and in her honor, Congressman Alcee Hastings named Aug. 10 “Liz Cayson Day.”
Cayson earned a master’s degree at Palm Beach Atlantic University and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in health services with specialization in community health education and advocacy at Walden University. She was raised in Pahokee by her father, who was in the audience, and grew up with four brothers. She is married to PBSO Sgt. Trevor Cayson and lives in Loxahatchee. She has two adult sons, U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Martin Hernandez and Damiane Hernandez, and one grandson, Wuilfredo.
Abedon said that Cayson is a true leader and has been supportive of the Arc’s services and mission for many years.
“The mission of the Arc is to provide advocacy and opportunity for individuals with disabilities to enjoy independence and have an enhanced quality of life,” Cayson said. “I am eager to help because I know I am helping those who I see as a vulnerable population.”
Scot Kannel, the Arc’s executive director, stressed the importance of the community working together to meet the needs of its members. Symbolic of that effort, Anne Caroline Valtin of Equestrian Sport Productions of Wellington accepted the Arc’s Carpenter’s Award for “helping to build the Arc,” a recognition of the Great Charity Challenge event last January, which raised $11,500 for the Arc.
Kannel also recognized three staff members who retired this past year. Sharon Peace, Pat Robinson and Willie Mae Russell collectively represent over 80 years of service to the Arc’s target population.
More than 100 people attended the event and thanks were expressed to the sponsors: Palm Beach State College Belle Glade Campus, Everglades Farm Equipment, the Larry Royal Family Businesses, Tom and Deborah Altman, Sugar & Spice Inc., Barnie Walker, J.M.A. Electric, Seminole Supply, Lake Hardware, Connell Furniture, RC Hatton, Bank of Belle Glade, Schiver & Co. PA CPA and Affordable Dry Cleaning.
For more info., visit www.arcglades.org.
Above: (L-R) Founding member Evelyn Johnson, 2013 Director Emeritus recipient Liz Cayson and founding member Sandra Chamblee.