Cobb County’s Original Special Needs Nonprofit Gets a New Name

Cobb County’s Original Special Needs Nonprofit Gets a New Name

Metro Atlanta CEO
Staff Report
Thursday, September 17th, 2020
Link to original article

In 1956, a small group of Cobb County parents fought the prevailing system of the time of institutionalizing children with developmental disabilities, determined that they would not put their kids away. They became known as Right in the Community, a trailblazing organization in the Special Needs community that accomplished many “firsts” to meet the needs they saw. This year, the organization became Special Needs Cobb to reflect its commitment to providing Resources, Respite and Residential services for families right in the community.

“We focus on the entire family unit, not just the individual,” said Debbie Day, executive director. “We provide respite care to relieve some of the stress of caregiving, keeping families strong and together. We connect parents with other families who ‘get it,’ and hold their hands as they navigate the complicated system of resources. Finally, we give people with disabilities a path to greater independence and opportunities to shine and reach their full potential.”

Special Needs Cobb, with the help of its partners and donors, operates 23 Group Homes for special needs adults in Cobb and Bartow counties. These are “homes for life” for 92 residents, approximately 40 percent of whom are orphans or have no family connections and need SNC to keep a roof over their heads. SNC provides loving care in affordable, accessible group home settings that give residents the chance to experience greater independence and self-determination. 

The SNC Respite Home is Cobb County’s only facilities-based respite program for special needs people. While operations at the Respite Home are temporarily suspended due to COVID-19, it was established to provide families with a break from caregiving responsibilities while allowing special needs children and adults the opportunity for a weekend of fun activities and social interaction.

In response to COVID-19 social distancing concerns, Special Needs Cobb is partnering with, named one of the seven best social and digital golfing apps at the 2019 PGA show, to host a virtual fundraising event hoping to draw 200 golfers. To support this important Cobb County nonprofit, join them for the U.S. Open Fantasy Golf Pro-Am event taking place Sept. 17-20. Golfers from anywhere in the world can take part in the event, which allows them to form a fantasy team with their favorite pros. Golfers will play rounds of golf at courses of their choice, and their best scores will be submitted as part of the fantasy team for a chance to appear on the leaderboard alongside the golfing greats. Supporters can register at


Continue Reading Cobb County’s Original Special Needs Nonprofit Gets a New Name

Some 550 special needs adults, caregivers at 50th-anniversary event.

Alan enjoys a holiday party

Some 550 special needs adults, caregivers at 50th anniversary event.

News Article
By Nancy Badertscher
Cover Story,  AJC: Inspire Atlanta

Santa Claus has arrived with a baby elephant, in a horse-drawn carriage, and under a motorized/supersized Atlanta Falcons football helmet. But he has never missed the Christmas party for Atlantans with special needs and their caregivers. Not in 50 years.

The annual party, which was on Dec.15 this year, was started by Atlanta restaurateur and businessman Bernie Eisenstein and fashioned after an event put on in Vancouver, British Columbia, Eisenstein’s hometown. “I said: ‘If I ever have the chance to do something like this, I’m going to,’” he said. “And I did.”

Eisenstein is still a fixture at the event but turned over the party-planning duties to Atlantans Jerry and Enid Draluck 23 years ago. “Most special-needs Christmas parties are for children,” Enid Draluck said. “This one is reserved for adults 18 and older, and, for many, it’s their only party — their only chance to dance, have fun and just be themselves.”

About 550 special needs adults and caregivers attended this year’s party at the Omni Hotel in downtown Atlanta. For two hours, they enjoyed singing, dancing, meeting celebrities and costumed characters, and partaking in a holiday feast, before leaving with a Christmas goodie bag and their picture with Santa.

Kennesaw resident Cathy Neher and her 39-year-old son Allen were happily back for a 10th straight year. “While we appreciate any community support, this event is extra special to both of us,” Cathy Neher said. “Simply put, it never feels like charity.”

The hotel, first responders, volunteers, entertainers and Dralucks “go out of their way to reach out to all in the community and provide a first-class, fun event,” she said. Allen, who has severe developmental delays, loved every aspect of this year’s party, his mother said. “Some of the highlights for Allen were seeing Santa, just going and getting to be out with all of his friends,” she said. “It’s very comfortable, very rewarding.”

The party also is special for volunteers, including Harold Shumacher of Midtown, who comes back year after year to help. The 71-year-old has been volunteering at the party for 35 years and says it’s “pure joy” watching a special needs adult, totally uninhibited, dancing to the DJ or live band and posing for pictures with celebrity guests.

Most of the guests have severe physical or mental disabilities, live in residential or institutional settings and have very few opportunities to get out, the commercial real estate agent said. “It’s the true spirit of Christmas — or so I’ve figured out, being raised Jewish — in that it’s purely about giving to others with no expectation of getting something in return,” said Shumacher, whose daughter and 6-year-old granddaughter join him as volunteers.

The event started small with about 38 special needs children and a party at Underground Atlanta and has over the years attracted as many as 800 guests, caregivers and celebrities. The party would likely cost about $200,000 to put on, were it not for the “compassion of our partners” who donate almost everything, including the venue, tables, chairs, food and music, Enid Draluck said. She and her husband personally pick up the costs of any expenses not covered by donations. They also make sure any leftover food is repurposed. This year it went to the Safe House of the Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence.

Robin Williams, who has been volunteering for seven years, said the party is “a wonderfully organized and celebratory event,” largely due to the Dralucks. “It simply operates like clockwork,” Williams said. “Every aspect is orchestrated to entertain, honor and serve their special guests.”

Enid Draluck said she and her husband believe the event “is a gift to our guests and an even bigger gift to everyone who volunteers.” Seeing the guests, all dressed in holiday attire, greeting one another, giving high-fives and then filling the dance floor, faces lit with joy, “fills our hearts, our souls,” she said.

■ Enid: “After volunteering for many years, Bernie Eisenstein, the founder, approached Jerry about taking over the event. We discussed it as a family and didn’t hesitate.
We’ve got the planning down to a science at this point: We divide the responsibilities between the two of us and have had very loyal vendors over the years, and that makes our job easier.”

Why is it important for you to put on this event? 

■ Enid and Jerry: “It fills our hearts, our souls to see the guests come into the hotel, all dressed up in their holiday attire. They are greeted by the volunteers, and they high five and wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Then, you go into the ballroom as it fills with hundreds of our special guests. You see the pure joy on their faces, and the dance floor fills, and old friends recognize each other and even some volunteers.
The real meaning of the season and for us, Tzedakah connotes giving charitable contributions, but the term originates in another realm. In the Bible, tzedakah means “righteous behavior” and is often paired with “justice.” In Jewish thought and tradition, material support for those in need is not a matter of “charity” – a term that implies generosity beyond what may be expected – but a requirement.”

We recognize a big part of our journalistic mission is to shine a spotlight on wrongdoings and to hold our public officials accountable. But we also understand the importance of celebrating our region’s moments, milestones and people. That’s exactly what we hope to accomplish with Inspire Atlanta.
Each week, Inspire Atlanta will profile a person who makes metro Atlanta a better place in which to live. Of course, we can’t do this alone: We need your help in finding extraordinary people and identifying inspiring stories across our region.
Know someone who inspires you or makes metro Atlanta a better place for others? Email us at [email protected].

Link to AJC article


Continue Reading Some 550 special needs adults, caregivers at 50th-anniversary event.
The first in a series of workshops by the Bobby Dodd Institute & Area Workforce Partners


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Golf International
A group of golfers enjoying the day at the SNC Golf International

Golf International

Special Needs Cobb U.S. Open Fantasy Pro Am Virtual Golf Invitational

Due to Covid-19, our Annual Columbus Day Golf Tournament has been replaced with a virtual event.  We hope that you will join us!

Sponsor a hole, a golfer or the entire event.

Save the Date!
September 17-20, 2020

Enjoy a round of golf on your favorite course, and help raise funds for a great cause!

In place of our annual Columbus Day Tournament at Dogwood Country Club and out of concern for the safety and health of staff, clients and golfers, we are going VIRTUAL! 

Over the four-day U.S. Open event, play multiple times at your leisure on your favorite golf course and see your name on the leaderboard with some of the Golfing Greats! Download the Apple or the Android app for more details.


Proceeds from the SNC Golf Invitational fundraiser will be used to:

  • Maintain our Respite Care Home and 23 Group Homes
  • Fund repairs for our Respite Care and Group Homes
  • Fund needed items such as furniture and appliances for our Respite Care and Group Homes
  • Provide groceries for our Respite Care Home weekend residents
  • Fund Respite Care Home resident entertainment such as games, videos, tickets to recreational venues
  • Fund fuel for our Respite Care Home resident outings




Continue Reading Golf International