Ask Northbrook resident Natalie Penner about the volunteer work that she does, and she can’t stop raving about Keshet. While she has embraced the organization wholeheartedly, Keshet is also grateful to her. Penner designed and painted Keshet
’s colorful “Rainbow of Friendship” tribute cards that feature a picture of children painting a rainbow. Thanks to these meaningful cards, Penner has helped raise almost a million dollars since 1995.
“Keshet is just a wonderful program,” says Penner, 84, the mother of three grown children and grandmother of four. “Keshet wraps its arms around the children and helps them in every possible way. Keshet gives purpose to these kids and their families.”
The Northbrook-based non-profit organization was founded in 1982 and provides educational, recreational and vocational programs for children and young adults with developmental disabilities.
Penner started volunteering for Keshet 17 years ago when her grandson, Adam, now 23, was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. “When Adam was diagnosed, I felt our lives were going to change for the worst, but I was wrong,” says Penner, who was married to her late husband, Richard, for 60 years. “Adam received speech and physical therapy and because of Keshet, I’ve met the best people I’ve ever known.”
For a minimum contribution of $18, individuals can order cards for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, “speedy recoveries,” birth of babies, as well as for the death of a family member. Penner’s artwork graces the front of each card, and her distinctive calligraphy – Penner has had her own calligraphy business for more than 50 years- announces the contribution, inside of each card.
“I enjoy doing the cards because it allows me to use my creativity to raise money that will further Keshet’s mission,” Penner says. “It’s also given me a
passion in my life to think that my calligraphy may help to send a child with special needs to school or to camp or in any way make a difference in their life,” she adds.
“Natalie Penner, our resident Grandmother to all, is one of the most loving people I know,” said Abbie Weisberg, Keshet, CEO/Executive Director. “Natalie’s artwork warms the walls of Keshet and we are forever grateful for her dedication to all cheap viagra online the children of Keshet”
Eight years ago, Penner also started a “Grandparents Plus” group, a group of 25-30 grandparents who meet four times a year on Sunday afternoons. “We have a speaker who talks about issues pertaining to special needs children,” says Penner, who’s the current president of the group. “We also giftwrap packages at neighborhood bookstores to raise money for Keshet.”
For more information about Keshet, go to www.keshet.org.