The Latin American Women of Scarsdale and Friends, a group that began as a social gathering of Spanish speaking women has evolved into a fund raising machine. In the past seven years, this group of enterprising women has raised more than $200,000. The lucky recipient? The Summer Daze Camp, a camp attended by more than 250 underprivileged kids, ages 3-14, run by the Don Bosco Community Center in Port Chester.
Ana Maria Ticoll, one of the longtime members of the Latin American Women of Scarsdale & Friends explains that Scarsdale resident Linda Ferr founded the group in 1998. At the time, Ferri, who is of Spanish and French origin, was trying to find a way to practice her Spanish. “For 3 years she had attempted to put together a group, and one day, she grabbed the Scarsdale Middle School telephone directory and called anyone whose name sounded “Latin”. She finally gathered a group of about 27 women and hosted the first meeting at her house in Quaker Ridge in January of 1999. By September of the same year she had 32 regular members.” The group now has about 55 women members, from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America. It meets frequently at many social gatherings but one of the events which they most look forward to is their annual fundraiser which raises money for the Summer Daze Camp. This year, the fundraiser will be held at the Scarsdale Golf Club on May 5 at 7pm.
Rosario Kaune, who has tirelessly worked on the fundraiser for the past seven years, explains that the women decided to use their time, education and generosity to help those in need. “We chose to work with Don Bosco Community Center in Port Chester, a non-profit organization, which runs a variety of programs to help underprivileged families in the Port Chester area.” The community center provides help and education for new mothers, a soup kitchen, used clothing distribution, the Don Bosco Boys & Girls Club, and after-school youth programs. Kaune points out that her group decided to help sponsor the 6-week summer day camp for children 3-14 years old. “During the summer months, many of the parents are faced with either quitting their jobs or leaving their children unattended in their apartments. We wanted to support the summer camp so that these parents would be able to continue to work while their kids attended a safe and fun summer program.” The camp, which runs from 8:30am to 4pm, gives all the children breakfast, lunch and snack. The children participate in daily sports and arts activities. “Almost 50% of the children attending the camp need partial or full scholarships in order to attend and we are happy to help make this happen,” states Kaune.
For many years, the fundraiser was held at the home of Maritza Williamson who has been instrumental in its success. However, this year, it will be held at the Scarsdale Golf Club on May 5th at 7pm, with a CINCO DE MAYO theme. Guests will enjoy Mexican food and dance to a DJ and mariachi band. As in past years, there will be silent auction items including a week at a villa in Casa De Campo, meals at popular restaurants, and donations from many Scarsdale vendors. Esther Dodo, Marietta Fica, America Gonzales and Estella Kochiss, have also devoted long hours and used their unique talents to raise money for the children who would not be able to attend the camp without their help.
Ticoll adds, “As Latinos we love to get together with friends, have fun, enjoy good food, good music and dance. For this event we try to invite many of our non-Latin friends to enjoy and experience our culture and contribute to such a good cause. Everybody is welcome!” An added benefit has been that these women have inspired their children to get involved. Camilla Kaune, a senior at SHS, volunteered this past winter, organizing the thrift shop at Don Bosco. Gabby Czerniak and Celina Ticoll, both juniors at SHS, have also helped out at the camp as junior counselors for many years and last year, Alex Czerniak chose to teach music to the camp children as his mitzvah project.
(Pictured at top: America Gonzalez. Susan Groner, Rosario Kaune, Maritza Williamson, Ana Maria Ticoll)
This article was contributed by Hyun Heffner of Scarsdale.