Approximately 200 attendees raised more than $400,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence (BGCL) at its Ancient Greece-themed auction, which took place on April 1 at DiBurro's in Haverhill. The auction is the club's largest fundraiser, providing 20 percent of the annual operating budget for critical programs focusing on academic success, healthy lifestyles, and community involvement for 4,400 youth members at two locations.
Attendees enjoyed dinner and cocktails while bidding on more than 100 silent and live auction items. Markus Fischer, the club's executive director, said he is humbled by the generosity of community members whose generosity "literally helps keep our doors open."
North Andover resident Frank Cieri, a member of the club's Board of Advisors, presided over the bidding for rare opportunities such as two separate lunches for eight with New England Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores, which raised $19,000. Flores's attendance at the fundraiser was coordinated by Smith Motor Sales of Haverhill, which donated the lunches at the Renaissance Golf Club in Haverhill, as well as a six-day tour for two through the Black Forest in a Mercedes-Benz right of the German factory.
Longtime club supporter Kevin Costello of Boston helped raise $15,000 by donating three golf trips to Fishers Island Golf Club in N.Y. Other popular items included an eight-day stay at a fully staffed beachfront villa in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, a 12-person private suite for a sold-out Bruno Mars concert donated by Asahi/America, premier Red Sox and Patriots tickets with fan experiences, chef's table dining for eight at Tuscan Kitchen in Salem, N.H., a makeover for 10 at Robert Jason Salon in Andover, jewelry, and home goods.
In addition, attendees bid on items benefiting club kids rather than themselves. One individual committed to paying $9,000 for a qualified youth member to attend the prestigious Phillips Academy Summer Session. Raffle winner John Cuoco, a reporter with 7News Boston, declined to accept his $5,000 prize from the club. In addition, event sponsorships were provided by Bill DeLuca's Woodworth Motors of Andover, Bank of New England, Brooks Properties of Salem, N.H., and Cambridge College.
There were two keynote speakers. Ten-year-old youth member Sophia Pardo, who learned to swim at the club and now competes on the River Sharks team, calls BGCL "like home." 2016 BGCL Youth of the Year Rosa Reynoso, who is majoring in civil engineering with a minor in environmental and global studies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, volunteers with Engineers Without Borders.
Reynoso, who joined the club at age 10 and graduated from Central Catholic High School with a 4.3 GPA, said the club reinforced the importance of education and provided her with the tools - including tutoring and scholarships - that enabled her to attain her dream of a college education. To give back, she served as president for two years of the BGCL Keystone Club, a community service group for high school students, and helped coordinate the Raytheon-sponsored Girl Lab! program which teaches STEM concepts to middle school girls.
"Being a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence has empowered me to think big - and never let anyone tell me I can't do something," Reynoso told the audience. "I can only thank the people in this room who have changed my life. Thank you for believing in me, and all my brothers and sisters at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence."
The Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence has science-related partnerships Merrimack College and the Museum of Science.