Community raises $17,000 for ADB 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

Living up to Gilroy’s robust tradition of volunteerism and community generosity, locals rallied in record time to keep a “cherished” music program alive and thriving for another year.

“The community is so wonderful in supporting us,” said Lori Franke, director of the violin program at Antonio Del Buono Elementary School. “I just don’t even know what to say beyond, that…I’m just speechless. I had no idea that we could raise that much money.”

Known for its cadre of youthful musicians ranging from kindergarten to fifth-grade students, the popular “gem” of a program that’s turned hundreds of elementary students into budding violinists for the past 13 years was threatened with a $17,000 budget cut that could have sliced the program in half.

The budget downsize would have reduced Franke’s presence at the school to a quarter of what it is now. As it is, she only works part-time.

With $17,000 plucked from the program’s funding stream, this means Franke would have chosen between taking a hiatus from ADB beginning in December, or reducing the number of participants to half of what it is now.

But that’s not going to happen. Not next year, anyway.

Franke reached out to Gilroy for help, and Gilroy answered.

Thanks to donations from philanthropic beneficiaries such as the local Gilroy Foundation, and a recent fundraiser event made possible by various community groups ranging from the Exchange Club to Costco, approximately $17,449 will keep those violin strings singing sweetly.

“I’ll be able to be there full-time next year. I’m so thrilled,” said Franke.

The group, which makes frequent appearances at concerts, fundraisers and the Gilroy Garlic Festival, was founded in 1999 by Franke. The highly respected teacher and passionate violinist took the program from 20 students to its present-day 75 students.

In anticipation of future budget cuts, Franke plans on holding a fundraiser every month to help support the ADB violin program. A car wash and pizza social is slated for sometime in August in front of Pinocchio’s Pizza near the corner of 10th and Monterey streets in Gilroy. Check back at for updates and details. 

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