The ABCs of
95th Annual Boys & Girls Club Annual Fundraising Gala a
By visiting author, Tawanna Savage
The Boys and Girls Club of
Mount Vernon celebrated their 95th
Anniversary on March 1st in an elaborate ceremony that
showcased the élan of the many talented children served
by the historical institution.
Jackson, Board President of the Boys & Girls Club
introduced the Master of Ceremonies for the event, Joe
Solimine, and Michelle Moore of the Boys and Girls Club
intoned a beautifully authentic performance of the
that paved the way
for patrons and participants that turned out in admirable
support for the occasion to enjoy the festivities.
Representation by Mount Vernon and Westchester County
leadership was very well signified by such distinguished
guests as Mayor Clinton I. Young, Honorable Judge J.
Mills, County Executive Andy Spano, County Clerk Ken
Idoni, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, Pelham Trustee Pete
Pataki, Mount Vernon City Council Members, School Board
Trustees and others.
While the Revelation Dance Troup waited in the
wings to give their first impressive performance, young
Anthony Cumberbatch passed the time in light
conversation and provided some insight regarding the
familiar rhythm of his drums.
After the excitement generated by the
Dance Troup came to an end and the viewers began to
settle down, the first Honoree, Joseph L. Torrisi, Sr.
received the Denzel Washington 2008 Community Service
Torrisi, founder of The Torrisi Agency, a real estate
and insurance business, grew up in the Wakefield section
of the Bronx, and moved to Mount Vernon where he has
lived for over 50 years.
Throughout his life in Mount Vernon, Torrisi has been
dedicated to community service and has been a member of
various community service organizations.
Torrisi, who will be celebrating his 84th
birthday very soon, had a large birthday cake donated by
Elgin Hayes Realty wheeled into the ballroom and was
given a rousing
rendition of “Happy Birthday” by the attendees.
Next introduced to the large crowd by Lowes Moore,
Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Mount
Vernon, was the second Honoree, Henry "Hank" Carter.
Thirty-five (35) years ago on a visit to Coler-Goldwater
Hospital, Carter learned that a young man had been shot
and paralyzed at a game. His compassion for the plight
of the handicapped had been tapped and he donated a
wheelchair and kept donating wheelchairs down through
the years. This was to be the starting point of an
earnest campaign to improve the quality of life for the
Carter's generosity, friendship, devotion and caring
has produced an extraordinary legacy of improved quality
of life for the physically challenged patients and
residents of Coler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital and
Nursing Facility, located on
Roosevelt Island, New York.
Carter, through Wheelchair Charities, Inc. (WCC),
has provided fund-raising activities, including
entertainment shows featuring noble artists, and the
Annual Wheelchair Classic Tournament at Madison Square
Garden. He has provided the patients and residents of
with his unceasing support and improvement of their
quality of life.
Some recent equipment made possible by Carter through
WCC include desk and laptop computer systems for the
Department of Speech and Audiology, enabling speech
pathologists to set up programs specific to a patient's
or resident's deficits as a result of stroke, other
neurological disease, head and neck cancer, and
traumatic brain injury.
Carter’s dedication, caring and support has remained
undaunted over the years. His review determined that of
the approximately 2800 inpatients - ninety-five percent
were paralyzed. Through determination and will, Carter
has been able to make substantive drives toward change
in the area of opportunities for the wheelchair bound.
Success stories are the incentive for many, many more
great chronicle, such as Victor, who got two arms and
two legs and is no longer bound by his wheelchair but is
actually able to get up and walk around as well as
Carter has been the recipient of many awards. According
to Carter though, the most important award he receives
is the friendship and love of the patients, residents
and staff at the hospital.
After Carter accepted his award, the second performance by
the Revelators took place.
These young dancers were so amazing and technically
adept with their footsteps and hand movements that were
particularly on point with the live drumming, that to
move your eyes away from one space meant they were
filled with dancers in another.
The obvious dedication to hours of practice at the Boys
and Girls Club allowed these children to flow with
optical ease into very difficult African dance steps and
routines and set the pace for continued musical
When the children’s dance routine finished and
accolades from the adults were given in acknowledgement
of their excellent performance, the live band performers
of Full Unit took over with a jazz
performance spotlighting Jao Whorton on a
Of course, we cannot go without the notable mention of
lead vocalist Loree Pina, whose on stage
on target ole school rhythm and blues rendition of Chic - Le Freak got everyone on the dance floor,
with Mike Aspro and Rose Marie
taking the honors as the most adorable dance couple on
After the boogie break, it was back to business, with
Solimine directing the attendees attention to the
remaining two hundred tickets that needed to be sold and
the Silent and Live Auctions that were still pending.
The auctions generated a total of $6,250.00, and the
entire event raised a little over $100,000 for the Boys
& Girls Club.
Covering this event was much fun for this southern girl
from Georgia, and watching how the North partied was an
interesting eye opener. Although I don’t go to bed with
the chickens, I do rise early with the birds to catch
the proverbial worm; therefore – needless to say, the
party was still rocking when I left to settle in for the
Joe Solimine, MC
Joseph L. Torrisi, Sr. receiving his award (c)
Henry "Hank" Carter (l) being introduced by
Mayor Clinton I. Young (r) with County Legislator Lyndon
Wheelchair bound hospital patients who
Drummers from the Revelation Dance Troup
Revelation Dance Troup dancers performing
provided excellent entertainment
(l) with daughter and sister
Guests relaxing before the start of the gala
Guests viewing the silent auction items
A view of guests scrutinizing silent auction items
Guests during the cocktail hour