The Saugerties chapter of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Saugerties and Kingston set out to raise $35,000 at its annual Saugerties dinner and auction. The club raised about $40,000.
Auctioneer Bob Siracusano handled the bidding smoothly. Every word was clear, and the usual unintelligible syllables between the bids were missing. He was assisted by Ray Tucker, who described the items and started the bidding.
The affair, held at the Diamond Mills ballroom, had a 1920s theme, with club officers and many patrons dressed in the style of the period. The ballroom was renamed for the evening The Speakeasy at Diamond Mills in the Great Gatsby Ballroom. Sue Worthman, who organized the event, said this was the 20th fund-raising auction, so it seemed fitting to adopt the Twernties theme.
One hundred and thirty people attended the event. The $60 price of admission included dinner, with hors d’oeuvres served prior to the meal as patrons placed bids on items in a silent auction.
It wasn’t all festivities. Natalie Turbush-Colon, Ulster County youth of the year, told the story of growing up in a family with serious drug addiction. Her mother nearly died of an overdose of drugs, and an uncle did die. “Because of these events I will make it my mission to educate youth on drug abuse,” she said.
Drug addiction begins for many Americans while they are in their teens, Turbush-Colon said. Indeed, “Half of all high school seniors have tried illicit drugs by the time they have graduated. One person dies every 19 minutes from a drug overdose. That means for the duration of this event approximately 13 people will die.”
After her mother’s overdose, Turbush-Colon and her siblings were placed in foster homes. In 2012, she started attending the Boys and Girls Club, and “it provided a place of safety and stability at a time when I needed it the most. “The club became my family,” she said, and she applied for work.
She worked for two summers. “It was rewarding being part of something and helping kids to feel they had a sense of family as well,” she said. Even after she and her sister were placed in a foster home in Kingston, she continued to come back to the club.
After another move, Turbush-Colon and her sister were placed with a family that welcomed them and made them feel part of a real family. She gained a sense of self-worth and confidence. She became a volunteer with the Bloomington Fire Company.
In 2015, she and her sister were adopted.
The Boys and Girls Clubs support its members through a variety of programs – an amazing variety, given that dues are just $10 per year. “The vision of the Boys and Girls Clubs is to derive a world-class club experience for every boy and girl who comes through our doors,” said AnnChris Warren, the Saugerties Unit director. The aim is to assure that every young person who comes to the club graduates from high school and has a plan for the future. “The aim is to have every graduate of the program demonstrate good character and citizenship and living a healthy life style.”
The program focuses on reading comprehension, math and science, visual and performing arts, nature exploration, sustainable food-growing and building skills, among other things.
During this summer’s program, the Boys and Girls Club will serve over 200 young people, “and we charge no additional fees for those programs.” The center’s success is particularly impressive, because so many of the young people in the programs come in each day with the weight of the world on their backs. The kids face really heavy problems, “such as being the main person, at the age of 13, to take care of three other siblings because their parents are never home, or facing physical abuse at school as well as at home.”
Following the talk, auctioneer Siracusano sought donations, starting with a $500 contribution. Many in the audience matched the gift, and many others offered smaller donations.
The bidding resumed, with Stone Pony proprietor John Livermore’s offer of a brunch for ten guests at the successful bidder’s home fetching $325.
Sports tickets were a popular item. The local Renegades drew strong bidding, with 15 skybox tickets to an upcoming game at Dutchess Stadium, plus fireworks, plus food and beverages. That package, sponsored by M&T Bank, drew $575.
A group ride in the horse carriage that graces many of the holiday celebrations in the village was a popular item. The prize, sponsored by Ray and Carol Ann Mayonne, includes a ride through Bishop’s Gate subdivision plus holiday cheer for up to 20 people as part of the ride, provided by Jimmy and Kathy Bruno.
A surprise bidder, Saugerties Stallions owner Kevin Hinchey, offered $1000, with an additional $1000 provided the audience stood and sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” led by Siracusano. The challenge was met.
Four tickets to a Mets game, offered by the Siracusanos, fetched $700.
Tickets to a Yankee game came from Bob and Larry Siracusano, who also offered six tickets to another Yankee game. A preseason Giants-Steelers game came from Sass Electric, and a Yankees-Brewers game from Ulster Savings Bank.
Jimmy Bruno’s Christmas figures were popular items, with a trio of dwarves fetching $500, and Santa with his sleigh also bringing in a good price. A pair of Easter bunnies drew $500.
Services, from massages to weekend getaways, were among the items, along with such hardware as barbecues and a metal fire pit. Weekend getaways and certificates for meals at local restaurants were also featured items.
For those who want to see firsthand what a policeman does in a day’s work, police chief Joseph Sinagra offered a ride with him for a day.
The auction was dedicated to the memory of the late Roland Carito, director of operations for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Ulster County, who died on April 15.