Compiled by The Bedford Citizen
Inspired by the 2016 BHS spring musical cast who raised money for young adults aging out of the foster care system, four cast members from this year’s JGMS musical,Annie, Jr., raised funds for Boston CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), a non-profit organization whose volunteers serve as the ‘eyes and ears of the judge,’ matching children at risk with an individual advocate who watches out for that child, to assure that their needs are met.
In character as Annie (Bella Panagiotou), Miss Hannigan (Grace Clark), Grace (Mia Federico) and Tessie (Araz Dulgarian), the four actors – all in eighth grade — delivered a compelling speech before each of the musical’s three performances. They appealed to the generosity of their audience, provided information about Boston CASA, and had a collection jar available at each intermission.
During the cast party, the students learned that their fundraising total would be matched by a generous anonymous donor who was inspired by their efforts. All of the 75 students in the cast and crew screamed with joy upon hearing that the match brought their total donation up to $1,326.
Earlier this week, the four girls presented Executive Director Charles Lerner and Mandy Mulliez of Boston CASA with their donation, and learned first-hand about the organization’s mission. They were joined by JGMS Music and Theater Arts Teacher/Musical Director Amy Budka, JGMS Principal Kevin Tracey, School Committee Member Ann Guay, and parent volunteers Lariza Panagiotou and Tina Nappi.
Lerner was in foster care until he was adopted at age 5. He now speaks at national conferences about the importance of services for foster children and children at risk. He reminded the girls of the importance of not forgetting those in need. He urged them to “never become desensitized” because there are inevitably children in every community living in foster care or facing challenging situations at home.
JGMS students resonated with Lerner’s remarks when he talked about the value of theater arts as a way to build community and break down isolation. Lerner was involved in theater as a teenager, and pointed out that being involved in extracurricular activities like theater and music could possibly save the lives of at-risk children and youth.
To learn more about Boston CASA, visit their website, www.bostoncasa.org.