Giving Gilroy weathers the storm

Sorella Strings Quartet as they perform the world premiere, "Romantic Fugue on a Theme by Carole Mayedo."

Those who ventured out to hear the Sorella Strings Quartet went armed with rain coats and umbrellas, ready to splash their way through the deep puddles in the flooded parking lot of the Music Academy and the United Methodist Church in downtown. Nevertheless, many braved the elements to attend the first in a spring concert series featuring professional musicians from South Valley. The concert emphasized the Romantic era, with lots of Schubert and Brahms.

“I’m going to come to as many of these as I can!” Barbara Bottini, author and local museum volunteer extraordinaire said.

In addition to a good rainy day crowd, the concert was attended by a fluffy little white dog who was completely well-behaved throughout all the Sturm and Drang of both the weather and the dramatic music. There were many smiles on the faces of those listening as the quartet performed the world premiere of the original composition “Romantic Fugue on a Theme by Carole Mayedo.”

As the group launched into Brahms, we discovered how the composer featured a “fatter” sound than the usual Romantic piece.

After the concert, the stormy day of celebrating St. Patrick’s continued as many made their way over to St. Mary’s for the dinner benefiting the work of St. Joseph’s Family Center. The St. Patrick’s dinner has been an annual fundraising event in Gilroy for more than 25 years, but this one was the most successful.

There were over 50 donors and 20 different sponsors, as well as culinary delights and many great auction items such as a 49er tail gate package, original artwork, dinner with the mayor, and three nights in South Lake Tahoe.

The most exciting moments of the night came when board member Rachel Perez got up to describe a dinner she and her husband John were donating that will feature authentic recipes enjoyed by Frida Kahlo and her husband, Diego Rivera, two of the most renowned 20th century’s artists. As she described how the gourmet dinner for a group of eight would include art appreciation, wine, and a truly mouth-watering meal of multiple courses in a setting that sounded worthy of Architectural Digest, the bidding was off and running.

“One hundred dollars.”

“Two hundred dollars.” someone immediately said.

The auctioneer, known as Mr. Garlic, scanned the crowd for more hands.

A signal soon came from the back of the room: “Three hundred dollars,” and the bidding was off and running at a fast pace. Then it became the most thrilling auction I have ever witnessed as a bidding war took off.

In no time, the bids had passed $1,000. The crowd began to call out, “Woo hoo!” after each bid. The excitement built as the bids passed $2,000, and climbed toward $3,000, all for a good cause. St. Joseph’s served 55,889 individuals last year who needed help and distributed over 2 million pounds of food, and helped prevent 320 families avoid homelessness by providing rental assistance to acquire permanent housing or avoid eviction.

As the bidding passed $3,000, Perez jumped up to once again address the crowd, calling out, “I offer TWO dinners!” The crowd of more than 200 went crazy!

With that, the former St. Joseph’s board member and two local philanthropic families locked together in the bidding war both won the auction at $3,100 each, a truly amazing outcome for one live auction item! That, my friends, is a model of the generosity of this community  when it comes to helping those who suffer many disadvantages and are living on the edge.

A highlight of the evening featured a presentation by photographer-author Randy Basso, who spent six months taking 4,000 photos of the homeless and learning their stories. Most poignant were the photos he showed us of a little girl named simply “Princess,” who has lived on the streets since she was born. She carries a doll she found with her everywhere she goes. Because she noticed that the doll was made in China, she assumes she knows martial arts and has her do karate chops when she plays with her. She simply calls the bruised and battered doll “Special.” It is the only life she has ever known.

The St. Patrick’s dinner will help fund another year of helping children like Princess and the one out of 10 families who currently live below the poverty line in our community. 

For more information on the concert series which benefits families in need, contact The Music Academy at 408-848-1064 or at [email protected] To learn more go to To learn more about stories of the homeless buy or download Randy Basso’s “The Forgotten” at

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