‘Shore’ thing! Cruise Party benefits youth center

Stephanie Nelson, Angelia Perry and Peggy Gibbs [Photo: Denise Ritchie]

‘What do we do with these?’ was the question of the evening, as guests sailed into the Oak Harbor Club and were handed wireless headphones at the recent Ship to Shore Cruise Party to benefit the Gifford Youth Achievement Center.

Headphones in hand (more about those later), guests mingled in the lobby, meeting and chatting with some of the polite, well-spoken youth who participate in GYAC’s numerous programs, before heading into the dining room.

Diners were treated to great entertainment – the hallmark of any great cruise – by members of the Indian River Charter High School Theater Department, under the direction of Michael Naffziger.

Deborah Taylor-Long, GYAC board chair, shared that while neither of her late parents had formal educations, they understood its importance, and encouraged her to pursue masters and doctorate degrees. She has been employed 35 years with the School District of Indian River County, and served on the initial GYAC board in 1998.

“Our vision and dream has not changed. We want to be that place of hope for all children and our community,” said Taylor-Long. “We know that you are in it with us, for all of your contributions, hard work, dedication and love that you show us. I want to say thank you on behalf of the center, because we could not do what we do without you.”

Scott Alexander, honorary chair of the Dream Weaver Campaign, spoke about the campaign to construct and operate the new Cis and Bill Glavin Educational Center, which opened in May.

“So ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to announce that we are arriving at our final destination, with the news that the $7.4 million goal has been achieved and the Dream Weavers Cruise has officially ended,” said Alexander, thanking everyone who contributed to the successful campaign, and encouraging continued support. “We should celebrate, but we always need to be thinking about tomorrow.”

Alexander also paid tribute to Mary McKinny, who spearheaded a Community Campaign that raised 146 percent of their goal, adding, “Clearly the Gifford community was behind this campaign, giving a strong statement of support for GYAC that will resonate throughout the county.”

Guests heard from Curtis Webb, youth programs director, and Jordan McPherson, a seventh-grade student with a 3.8 GPA at Gifford Middle School, who spoke eloquently about how GYAC programs give students the chance to “grow and learn more every day.”

Angelia Perry, GYAC executive director, commented on the African proverb that ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’

“We wouldn’t be here without you,” said Perry. “This village is making a difference in this community.”

GYAC provides afterschool and summertime educational, social, cultural, recreational and developmental programs for children in grades K-12, a Beyond Special K program for senior citizens, and numerous programs and activities with local collaborative partners.

Back to those headphones. Puzzled expressions turned to smiles of enjoyment as headphones began glowing in red, blue or green – different colors for varied musical channels – and folks began to jam in a silent disco to their own private little dance parties; dancing with abandon to seemingly nothing, while enabling table conversations to continue uninterrupted by loud music. Genius!

For more information, visit GYAC.net.


Photos by: Denise Ritchie
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