$12,000 raised for violin program

Educator of the year Lori Franke plays with a small group of students in her 45 student violin class at Antonio Del Buono Friday, as she demonstrates what songs they will learn in the coming months, on their first day. Franke has been doing violin instruc

As news spread regarding the financial jeopardy of a cherished violin program at Antonio Del Buono Elementary School, Gilroyans answered the call in full force – raising $7,000 of the needed $17,000 during a special fundraiser Friday.

The total amount raised now sits at $12,000, following a $5,000 contribution from Williams Dental Laboratory, a local business located on Arroyo Circle in Gilroy.

About 400 people showed up to Friday’s event at IFDES Lodge-Portuguese Hall, where members contributed in myriad ways. Local comedy-cooking duo Sam Bozzo and Gene Sakahara (aka the “SakaBozzo twins”) whipped up a three-pasta dinner, salad and garlic bread. Performances were given by the ADB violinists, a local youth mariachi group and a local folklorico group. There was also a gift basket raffle and live auction hosted by Mayor Al Pinheiro, who auctioned off great prizes like a getaway stay in a lake cabin in Tahoe.

“It was a great event,” said Pinheiro, who as of Monday had received more donations toward the cause. “These are the kinds of things you hate to see go by the wayside.”

Irresistibly endearing with its cadre of youthful musicians ranging from kindergarten to fifth-grade students, ADB’s violinists make frequent appearances at concerts, fundraisers and the Gilroy Garlic Festival. The program was founded in 1999 by director Lori Franke, a highly respected teacher and passionate violinist took the group from 20 students to its present-day 75 students.

Due to budget setbacks, however, the program will see half its budget axed next year. Franke said she was “shocked” and disheartened after learning – two weeks before school got out – that ADB could only afford her half the time.

In reality, the budget downsize would reduce Franke’s presence at the school to a quarter of what it is now, since she is already a part-time employee. Her young musicians will be without their director as of December – or see half of their peers plucked from the program.

But things are looking much sunnier thanks to a grassroots fundraising effort spearheaded by Franke, parents and community leaders, especially after Friday’s momentous kick-start.

“I’m pretty happy about everything,” said Franke. “Dinner was wonderful, and we made a lot of money.”

The next fundraiser will be a car wash featuring pizza for sale. Franke doesn’t have the specifics yet, but says the event is slated for sometime in August. Check back at gilroydispatch.com for developing details. 

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