DANVERS — Northeast Arc will celebrate 60 years of helping children and adults with disabilities with a gala at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem next month.
The gala, which will feature dinner, dancing and a silent auction, will raise money for the nonprofit and, organizers hope, also raise its profile.
“We are the best-kept secret on the North Shore,” said Gerard “Jerry” McCarthy, executive director of Northeast Arc. The organization has been working for several years to inform people that one of the largest human service agencies in the state is right here on the North Shore, he said. It’s based on Holten Street in Danvers.
With 600 employees, it’s one of the largest employers on the North Shore, said Darcy Immerman, who is chairing the gala with Jeffrey Musman of Nahant. It serves 150 communities and 7,000 people a year, with an annual budget of about $125 million, according to its website.
Part of the reason the organization changed its name from North Shore Arc to Northeast Arc a few years ago was to better reflect the agency’s reach, McCarthy said.
The event at the Peabody Essex Museum will also honor former state Senate Majority Leader Fred Berry for his work advocating for those with disabilities. Berry, who now works for Northeast Arc, rose to prominence on Beacon Hill while dealing with the effects of cerebral palsy.
Also being honored is New England Biolabs CEO Jim Ellard and his company for employing people with disabilities for the past 20 years.
Jerry McCarthy, a Topsfield resident, will be honored for his 35 years at the organization’s helm.
“I think it’s a long time, but it’s gone by in a blink of an eye,” McCarthy said.
Founded in 1954 by parents of children with disabilities who wanted more for their kids than a life in an institution, the nonprofit organization has grown to serve both kids and adults with a broad range of disabilities. It has also grown to be the largest such organization in Massachusetts and the fourth-largest in the country.