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6th Annual Spring Benefit and Wine Tasting Supports Community

July 16, 2014

Many a glass was raised the evening of May 13th to toast OLQA. The Spring Benefit and Wine Tasting at Moore Brothers Wine Company is an annual celebration in honor of OLQA’s dedicated community of donors, volunteers, and instructors. Over forty guests mixed and mingled throughout the night, enjoying conversations with student ambassadors and meeting fellow friends of the school. Benefit co-chairs and OLQA School Board members Brian and Laura Elbogen noted how special this night is to them. “Many of our friends knew that we were volunteering with a private school in East Harlem,” Brian reflected, “but it was hard to explain why we had such interest and passion for the school without sharing actual names, faces, and experiences. The Spring Benefit gives us that opportunity by introducing many of our friends to the students, teachers, and community supporters that we have been privileged to meet.” Laura remarked upon the effect OLQA students have had on her, noting in her opening remarks that “OLQA students are assured and self-confident. They have the strength to answer hard questions and they recognize the wisdom in saying ‘I don’t know, but I’ll get back to you.’”

The night honored Jamieson Odell, OLQA School Board member, as he received the third annual Guardian Angel Award in recognition of his exemplary service and commitment to OLQA. Jamie first stepped through OLQA’s doors in 2001 not too long after he graduated from college. He was hired for a one-year commitment to streamline the school’s finances, and he never left, providing much valued insights and thoughtful guidance to our school.

The night ended with a student performance by select members of the Voices of East Harlem Choir. The final song of the night ended early as the keyboard played its final chord and promptly died. Guest Esther Laventhol, a friend of our school nurse Ms. Susman, contacted us immediately after the event to offer to pay for the purchase of a new keyboard for our music students. With that spirit of generosity, we raised over $17,000 for the school. These funds will be used for academic and enrichment scholarships that enable our students to attend a school that provides unique opportunities — inside the classroom and out. As Yeric G., an 8th grader and recipient of the John Birkelund Scholarship, said in his remarks, “I feel that the scholarship did more than pay for part of my tuition. It pushed me to strive for greatness.” What an incredible night, and an incredible opportunity to celebrate the impact we all have on so many lives here on our corner on 112th Street.