Helen Keller National Center holds 50th anniversary brunch

The Island Now
Photo courtesy of Peggy Kalia

The Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults, a division of Helen Keller Services, will hold a 50th anniversary brunch on Oct. 7 at the HKS headquarters in Sands Point.

“The brunch will be the highpoint of what has been a terrific anniversary year,” HKS President and CEO Joseph Bruno said in a statement.

The event will feature honorary guest speakers who helped to found and grow HKS and will culminate with the unveiling of the Helen Keller National Center Wall of Fame. The installation will serve as a tribute to five people whose work helped to improve the lives of deaf-blind individuals.

An additional five people will be added to the Wall each year.

“For 50 years, the Helen Keller National Center has stayed true to its mission while setting a remarkable standard for innovation and progress,” Bruno said.

Among the honorary guests are Martin A. Adler and Joseph J. McNulty, who both had served as executive director of the HKNC. Also appearing will be Michelle J. Smithdas, a former student and HKNC employee whose husband, Dr. Robert J. Smithdas, was one of its founders and the first deaf-blind person after Helen Keller to earn an undergraduate degree and the first deaf-blind person to receive a master’s degree.

Additionally, there will be many former colleagues and students returning to discuss the impact that the HKNC had in their lives.

“We have guests coming from around the country, including spouses and family of friends who are no longer with us,” said HKNC Executive Director Susan Ruzenski. “It will be a day of reflection but mainly a day of celebration.”

The 50th anniversary brunch and program are open to the public. Information can be found on the organization’s website, www.helenkeller.org/hknc.

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