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BGCL Auction Raises $500,000

April 18, 2019

Before introducing the final item of the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence Auction on April 6, auctioneer Frank Cieri of North Andover informed the 250 attendees at DiBurro's in Haverhill that $475,000 had been raised thus far that evening. Not since 2008, he noted, had the club reached its $500,000 fundraising goal toward the $3.2 million operating budget for critical programs focusing on academic success, healthy lifestyles and community involvement for more than 4,000 youth members at two locations.

With that in mind, he only half joked, who wanted to bid $25,000 on a hand-knotted tourmaline necklace donated by SoleAmour of Andover?

While the winning bid of $1,000 was still gratefully accepted, a seed had been planted. A member of the club's Board of Directors and his wife announced they donating $2,500 to the club. Another couple followed their generous lead with a donation of their own.

"People were starting to walk out, and I got on the microphone and said you need to wait and see what is happening here!" said Cieri, noting he hadn't witnessed an "organic giving frenzy" like the one that followed in his 25 years as auctioneer. One after another, attendees "bid" $1,000 until the tally reached $498,500. The final $1,500 donation that turned the $500,000 goal into reality was met with thunderous applause.

"It was a truly special night that no one will forget," Cieri said. "Every single person at the event slept well that night, knowing they contributed to the incredible effect the club has on all the youths who pass through its doors."

With a theme of Pretty In Pink, the event featured dinner, cocktails and more than 200 silent and live auction items. Markus Fischer, the club's executive director, said he was humbled by the generosity of community members whose generosity "literally helps keep our doors open."

Famed speed painter Rob Surette of North Andover, known for inspiring television and live audiences with his Amazing Hero Art, opened the evening by creating a six-foot painting of Abraham Lincoln which he then donated for bidding. Retired New England Patriots linebacker Jarvis Green, now owner and president of Oceans 97, donated a shrimp and crawfish boil for 10 which he will personally prepare in the winning bidder's home.

Other popular items included beachfront villa rentals in Hawaii and Mexico, golf packages at Pebble Beach, California and Turner Hill, Ipswich, a suite to an Ariana Grande concert, a wine collection selected by the club's Board of Directors, premier Red Sox, Patriots and Bruins tickets with fan experiences, a makeover for 10 at Robert Jason Salon in Andover, autographed sports memorabilia, jewelry and home goods.

Attendees also bid on additional items benefiting club kids. One person donated $9,000 toward a qualified youth member attending the prestigious Phillips Academy Summer Session. A record 57 individuals donated $3,000 to Feed the Need, providing a nutritious supper for youth members every night of the week for the entire year - many still wiping tears from their eyes following the moving keynote address by club alumna Cecilia Reyes of Lawrence as they did so.

Reyes described feeling embarrassed both times she was forced to withdraw from college due to lack of funds, and overwhelmed by the club's gifts of strength, hope and financial means to return to the classroom through part-time employment and college scholarship assistance. She even fulfilled her lifelong dream of playing college basketball at Merrimack College, where she graduated magna cum with dual degrees in psychology and business in 2018, as well as professional experience in the National Women's Basketball League in the Dominican Republic.

"It takes a village to raise a child, and my village and family has been the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence - a family that you are all part of through your participation in this auction. To say I am grateful is an understatement," Reyes told the audience. "On behalf of my brothers and sister at the club, I want to thank each and every one of you, for not just changing, but for saving our lives."

 

Did You Know?

The Beacon Club serves more than 300 children per year and provides a safe haven to children in the Beacon Projects in South Lawrence.