FRAMINGHAM – The Raise the Hoop fundraiser at Samba West Thursday night to benefit Hoops & Homework raised $6,500 for the after school program, said Hoops and Homework founder Herb Chasan.
More than 150 people attended the fundraiser, which featured an Asian and sushi buffet.
“It was a fantastic evening. Big thank yous to Jason Smith and Jen Maseda for setting up the event.,” said Framingham resident Chasan.
“Special thanks to Joseph Zheng, the owner of Samba West, for hosting the event and providing wonderful food at no charge,” said Chasan. “All funds collected will go to direct service for our kids and staff. Administrators are all unpaid volunteers.”
Hoops and Homework is a free after school and summer academic and enrichment program, that provides a safe, fun, learning environment for local youths at two locations in south Framingham.
The event also featured the raffle of a Celtics basketball signed by all the players thanks to Jeen Kniveton, said Chasan. The winner was Zoalene Mish.
Attendees could also help the program by taking a tag off one of the three giving trees. Items on the trees were requested by staff and students in the programs. They included: Legos, sketch pads, winter gloves, shoes, socks, hats, pajamas, dolls, cute puppy teddy bears, bracelet kits, toy car sets, and cameras to take photos.
The trees with tags will be on display at Tosti’s Service Station, at 47 Waverly Street and at Samba West for 6 weeks. Please stop by and make a donation for the remaining items on the trees.
The guest speaker for the evening was Lynn native Brian Castellanos, who talked about overcoming many hardships in his life. An athlete, he made a promise to his brother when he was dying of cancer to better his life.
“In my high school years, I was abandoned by my mother and had to watch my brother die from cancer, forcing me to grow up quickly. My brother was diagnosed with cancer my junior year of high school; those hardships caused me to face and be exposed to the harsh realities of extreme poverty that many lower class Americans experience. Without them in my life, I was forced to be my sole provider and to live as a homeless high school student, living out of my car. The death of my brother was just the push I needed to not only get through high school, but to do well in high school,” he told the crowd.
He played football at Framingham State University, earning championship rings and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in criminology. He then earned a Masters of Science degree and is now pursuing a PH.D.
Castellanos discussed the importance of after school programs and how they made a huge difference in his life.
Today, he works at Wayside Youth & Family Support Network as a mobile crisis clinician and intensive care service coordinator. Castellanos was recently appointed to the Framingham State University Alumni Association Board of Directors, too. He travels the country as a motivational speaker, as well.
“Much appreciation to Lisa Gelin, Liz Tosti, Susan Petroni and so many others who really helped make the evening a success,” said Chasan. ” Our 95 kids and 10 staff really appreciate your dedication.”
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