LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The East Texas Fun Bunch is a group out of the Gateway Community Partners that provides cultural enrichment to adults with physical and mental challenges.
However, on Wednesday they were able to provide cultural enrichment to their friends and family with a special musical performance.
"Our consumers have special talents," said Gateway CEO Elton McCune. "Sure, they have special needs, but a lot of them also have special talents."
"They have been looking forward to this for weeks, and they practice and practice and talk about their concert," said Fun Bunch music teacher Vernay Carrington.
The Fun Bunch's talents include singing, playing instruments like the keyboard and hand bells, and even being able to read music.
"Our bells are colors, and the notes are color coded, so they're actually reading music," Carrington explained.
However, the performance isn't just for fun, it's also a way of helping the challenges that members of the bunch face every day.
"It eases tension, it eases agitation, it helps people express themselves in a way they may not be able to express themselves," Carrington said.
"We have several that are autistic," said Fun Bunch director Kathy Manley. "They have really blossomed, literally blossomed, and over the course of the last six weeks, the have just come out of their shell."
In fact, one of the singers was ill Wednesday, and when it came time for their song, her friend Jesse volunteered to fill in for her, bringing tears to the staff's eyes.
While they are proud of their bunch, there's another reason they enjoy watching them perform.
"Yes I'm proud, but also it fills me with joy seeing them have a good time," Carrington said.
If you would like to visit the Gateway Community, you can call them (936) 639-1291.