Spectrum Network to host May 3 gala to celebrate 50 years of making people smile

By Zach Jensen,

Pictured (l-r): Debora Van Horn, Community Services Administrator, Mark Landas (client) and Community Services Specialist Hillary Hart at “The Kitchen,” located adjacent to what is now called the Winneshiek County Community Services building.

The Spectrum Network of Decorah is celebrating its 50th year of serving developmentally disabled adults and the community, and to kick off its celebratory year, the nonprofit organization is hosting a gala themed “Golden Moments!” Friday, May 3, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., at Impact Coffee.

Gala attendees are encouraged to wear gold attire for the event, which will feature a spread of hors d’oeuvres and a complimentary signature drink for the evening. The night will also include a raffle, live auction and music.

Christopher Miculinich, Spectrum Operations Manager, said he, board members, staffers and Spectrum clients are very excited about the upcoming celebration. 

“We’re celebrating 50 years of service to the community, which is a big deal,” said Miculinich. “A lot of organizations don’t make it that long, and we’re not going anywhere. We’ll likely be here for the next 50-plus years and beyond.”

Spectrum’s location has changed significantly from its inception. The organization began in 1974 as “Winneshiek Development Center” (WDC) in the basement of Grace Episcopal Church, providing services to 13 clients. They moved within a year to the Carlson building, now home to B. Fit Studio. 

In 1982, WDC opened a can redemption business for Winneshiek County, and in 1986, WDC and Sheltered Work, Inc., merged to become Spectrum Industries. After numerous changes over the next 20 years, Spectrum Industries changed its name to The Spectrum Network, to reflect its vision of strengthening the “network” of support and community inclusion for clients. With this change, the organization opened the doors to its new headquarters at 607 Washington Street, and has been developing and changing ever since.

Clients and past employees have also been invited to the gala.

“We want our donor base there, but we also want to make sure the individuals we serve on a daily basis can enjoy the event as well,” Miculinich said. “The clients are who we are, as an organization, and they’re all excited to come to the event. It’s just awesome.

Miculinich said employment services is one way Spectrum partners with other companies and organizations in the Decorah community. 

“We’re actively providing services in community organizations, because our clients are employed in those organizations — like the Chamber or The Landing and others,” Miculinich said. “And, our Day Habilitation provides our clients with social connections, and they have at least one outing every day where they go out into the community.”

A major portion of Spectrum’s “Day-Hab” services is the organization’s bus, which has recently worn out. Miculinich said the last bus Spectrum bought was a 1998 model bought several years ago. Decorah native Brad Carlson drives the bus for the Day-Hab activities and said raising funds for the new bus purchase is crucial in order to continue offering those services. 

“We need certain funds to go out into the community,” Carlson said. “Luther College lets us go up there for open gym. We take them bowling at King Pin. We try to get them to all the businesses around town, and if we don’t have reliable transportation, we can’t do that.”

Subsequently, Miculinich said all funds raised through the gala will directly contribute to enhancing client services and acquiring a new ADA-compliant vehicle.

“Our fundraising goal is $50,000 to match 50 years of service, and all the funds raised through this event go directly toward purchasing a new van or bus, because getting our people out into the community is so important, and those vehicles are not cheap,” Miculinich said.

“We are blessed to be part of such an incredible community that not only supports but powers the existence of an organization like ours,” said Spectrum Vice President Paul Greenberg. “This community is what makes our mission possible, allowing us to provide essential services and advocacy that significantly impact lives. The generosity and spirit of our community members fuel our efforts and inspire us to keep pushing forward.

“We are reminded daily of the difference we make, seen in the milestones met by those we assist,” the vice president continued. “From the simple joys of learning a new skill to the profound achievement of securing a job. This is why our work resonates so deeply within our hearts and our community. As we look forward, the continued support of our community is essential. It is what will sustain and propel us into the future.”

Reserve spots for the gala at https://givebutter.com/hyTfVB or in-person at The Spectrum Network at 607 Washington Street. For more information, call 563-382-8401.

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