FAIRFIELD - On Sunday, June 9, Saint Catherine Center for Special Needs will celebrate its 20th Anniversary “Joy & Gratitude” Dinner at Fairfield University. More than 300 guests are expected. The Center is comprised of Saint Catherine Academy, which serves students ages 5-21 of all faiths who are impacted with autism, intellectual, and developmental disabilities, as well as an Adult Day Program for young adults with disabilities.

Four individuals will be recognized at the signature fundraiser. The late Jim O’Brien of Fairfield, one of Saint Catherine Academy’s first Board members, will receive the Volunteer Service award. His expertise from a lifelong career and family business in lumber (Nutmeg Forest Products) helped to steer the construction of the Center’s current facility adjacent to Holy Cross Church in Fairfield.

Marie and Sal Gilbertie of Easton, owners and founders of Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens, will receive the Community Partnership Award for their long association with the Center as a vocational worksite. Each week students and adults from the Center work at the wholesale garden center in Easton sorting and stacking planting pots, practicing useful skills in the community while providing valuable labor for Gilbertie’s.

Dian Jennings Mayo of Redding Ridge will be honored with the Leadership Award for her dedication and early influence in the establishment of the Academy. In 1996, inspired by the needs of her older brother with disabilities, Mayo wrote a letter to then-Bishop Egan to express a “long-held dream” of hers to create a Diocesan fund earmarked for special education of the adult population. That dream eventually became Saint Catherine Academy.

“The name of our event — ‘Joy & Gratitude’ dinner — is very appropriate. While our role of journeying with our students and adults is challenging work, it brings a lot of joy,” said Helen Burland, Executive Director. “This is the only major fundraiser we hold for the Center, and we’re excited about a full house on June 9th to join us in the celebration.”

Corporate sponsors currently include the Knights of Columbus Supreme Office, AEA, GoldPoint Partners, CrossBay Capital Partners, TD Bank, and Neuberger Berman.

Tickets to Saint Catherine Center’s “Joy & Gratitude” Dinner can still be purchased and donations made online at www.501auctions.com/stcatherinecenterdinner. For more information, call 203-540-5381.