The community came together dancing, singing and speaking for the Carver Community Center during a telethon held at Proctors, raising a total of $7,850 Tuesday evening.
Local residents behind the Miracle on Craig Street fundraising effort and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, hosted a four-hour telethon to raise money for the center, which has been closed for two years. The telethon was carried on public access, Channels 16 and 17.
The enthusiasm and excitement at Proctors’ Robb Alley was high, with people cheering on speakers and performers. Meanwhile, volunteers were answering phones with people calling in to donate.
The more than 50 people who got up on stage each ended their five-minute TV appearance by saying or singing “881-4500,” reminding people to pick up the phone and contribute.
MVP Health Care kicked off the donations on Monday with a $1,000 check.
“This is a passionate group of people dedicated to making the Miracle on Craig Street fundraiser work,” said Ellen Sax, MVP’s director of community engagement. “And how can we not support that effort?”
The Carver Community Center at 700 Craig St. remains vacant after four failed auctions. The minimum bid was set at $150,000 by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and later dropped to $10,000.
There are hundreds of thousands of dollars in liens against the property. The city is exploring the option of foreclosing on the building so development can move forward.
Before the telethon, the Miracle on Craig Street raised a little more than $23,000 since the first auction in August. The goal Tuesday evening was to match that amount.
“It’s about raising money and raising awareness,” said Councilwoman Marion Porterfield, who is part of the fundraising group. “We’re hoping this will encourage more donations after the telethon.”
Porterfield said the ultimate goal is to raise $200,000 to purchase the center in Schenectady’s Hamilton Hill neighborhood and reopen it as a community center with activities and programs.
Carver offered after-school programs and early childhood education, taught kids to avoid drugs and alcohol, and provided counseling services in the heart of the city’s most troubled neighborhood.
“I grew up in Brooklyn and I know the challenges of not having a community center,” said Kathleen McLean of Schenectady County Working Group on Girls. “This effort will change lives and change the community. That’s something each of us can do.”
McLean spoke about the importance of a community center on stage during the telethon and pledged $50 toward the cause.
There were several dancers on stage Tuesday evening, including students from Mont Pleasant Middle School and Schenectady High School.
The step team from Mont Pleasant Middle School performed on stage a combination of step and drill. The group of girls even brought up someone from the audience to dance along.
“Part of it was Rosa Rivera and trying to bring Carver back,” said Marva Rochford, leader of the step team. “I told my girls we had to come together and help them raise money.”
Anita Arjoon, 15, a Schenectady High School student, also danced on stage dressed in elegant Indian clothing and performing a Katak cultural dance.
“I’m here because of the Carver Center,” Arjoon said after performing. “I have been dancing for two or three years. It’s a traditional Indian dance.”
Dr. Giuseppe Veglio, of Paul Mitchell the School Schenectady, said he plans to give 50 percent of salon proceeds on Dec. 10 to the Miracle on Craig Street.
“Save your haircuts for this occasion, for the Miracle on Craig Street,” Veglio said. “I think it’s important and we’re trying to teach the students it’s also about being a part of the community and helping the community grow.”
Rosa Rivera, an organizer with Miracle on Craig Street, said she believes the telethon is a great community event to raise money for Carver.
“After community meetings and a lot of sleepless nights, we decided we would launch this fundraising campaign to help save the center,” she said at the beginning of the telethon.
Jamaica Miles, also with Miracle on Craig Street, said the community coming together would make a difference.
“We want to make sure Carver opens its doors and is made bigger and better than ever,” she said on stage. “That’s why I’m here and I’m running around like a crazy person helping and doing whatever I could do.”
The telethon was held on “Giving Tuesday,” a global day of giving observed on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving.
The telethon will be replayed on Channels 16 and 17. Miles said she hopes people will continue to donate to the Miracle on Craig Street fundraiser.
Click here too donate to Miracle on Craig Street.
Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, [email protected] or @HRViccaro on Twitter.
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