2022 Gala Awards

Every year we take some time to recognize a few volunteers and/or participants at the annual Gala and this year was no different.

At GiGi’s Playhouse volunteers and participants are at the heart of what we do.  In 2022, GiGi’s Playhouse Quad Cities has logged close to 4000 volunteer hours with volunteers performing various roles within the Playhouse.  From math and literacy tutors, social and therapeutic program leaders, and event committee members to those who so generously assist with cleaning and maintaining our Playhouse, we appreciate you all. Each and every volunteer makes an impact on our Playhouse and the work we do each day.

We have standout volunteers in all areas, but sometimes one particular volunteer stands out amongst the rest.  One who goes above and beyond what we could possibly ask of them.  This year’s award winner has been consistent in volunteering and communicating when a change in her planned time is needed.

Volunteer of the Year:

Meribeth Johnson

Meribeth volunteers every Monday morning and is always ready for a challenge. She frequently tackles administrative tasks like thank you letters and making phone calls. She will jump in wherever help is needed. She even put together the centerpieces for the gala! Meribeth reached out to us to help her local GiGi’s Playhouse after her grandson was born and they learned about their local GiGi’s playhouse which is the Chicagoland area. Meribeth shared the following with us:

The best way to start my week is to volunteer every Monday at GiGi’s Playhouse.

I didn’t know much about GiGi’s or Down syndrome until I was blessed with my grandson Henry.  He was the driving force for me to walk through that door. Opening that door opened my eyes and my heart to a world I wanted to be a part of.

I’m grateful to be part of something that is good and positive. I truly believe that I receive more than I give.

GiGi’s has a nationwide campaign called Generation G. This campaign instills the need to be accepting, generous, and kind. This year’s Generation G award winner embodies all of these characteristics both in and out of the playhouse.  Lisa please announce our Generation G award winner.

Generation G Award Winner:

Stephanie Witt

Stephanie is a personal friend and former coworker of our Site Director. She had no other connection to GiGi’s and when Pam invited her to lead a program she happily said yes. Since that moment she has done a multitude of things that have impacted GiGi’s. She planned and led our fantastic Leaps and Bounds preschool program over the summer. She corralled a group of her friends and coworkers to work at our concessions stand at the John Deere Classic with her. She also nominated GiGi’s Playhouse Quad Cities for her employer’s employee payroll charity deduction program and we were chosen. She has shared the message of acceptance for all with our youngest participants and families, and many, many of those in our community. We are proud and thankful to have Stephanie as part of the GiGi’s family.

Last but not least, the reason GiGi’s exists is to provide free, purposeful, programs. Each participant that enters our doors is there for their own personal reasons. Some only participate in speech and/or tutoring while others may only participate in one favorite group program. Then there are participants that attend EVERY program possible. This year we are giving an award for participant of the year.

Participant of the Year:

Abby Carmichael

Abby attends and participates in as many programs as she possibly can. She has logged over 200 participation hours in the past year.  She participates in music/drumming, dance, tutoring, speech, and Teen Tastic which is a group program for teens. Abby along with her parents also attend most GiGi’s events. Not only do they attend but they drive a long way to do so. They drive because they believe! They believe in the free purposeful programs and the GiGi’s mission. Congratulations, Abby and thank you to her parents for driving and believing!

While we want to thank these specific people we also want to thank ALL of the volunteers, participants and all of YOU! Our Playhouse thrives thanks to volunteers, families, the community and your commitment and support to changing the way the world views Down syndrome.


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