BALTIMORE— The South Baltimore Learning Center (SBLC) recently held its “That’s Amore, The Love of Learning” Gala, at Montgomery Park Business Center, raising approximately $77,000 to support its educational services and operations.
Four hundred twenty-five guests enjoyed flavorful dishes, wine, beer and cocktails provided by Baltimore’s best restaurants and caterers; dancing to the sounds of Fifth Avenue, silent and live auctions and a moving presentation by 2001 SBLC Graduate Catherine Palmer.
Additionally, SBLC Instructor Jan Albert Elliott reworked Dean Martin’s classic song, “That's Amore,” into “That's a Learner,” as a special tribute to SBLC’s adult learners who appeared on stage.
“Our guests had a great time with the ‘That's Amore’ theme, dining, dancing and happily donating to support our adult literacy services,” said Sonia Socha, South Baltimore Learning Center’s executive director. “With an increased waiting list and growing demand for our services amid decreasing government dollars, receiving private funds is critical to our being able to deliver our mission.”
Co-chaired by SBLC Board Vice President Ian H. Neuman (principal, Abbey Drum Co.) and SBLC Board Secretary Darlene Davis (an attorney with Ober, Kaler Grimes & Shriver), the black-tie optional celebration also honored the Associated Italian American Charities for its longtime commitment and support of South Baltimore Learning Center.
“SBLC is grateful for the ongoing partnership with the Associated Italian American Charities of Maryland, as we continue to work together to help improve the lives of educationally disadvantaged adults in Maryland,” Socha added. “As our 2013 Gala Honoree, we recognize and thank the AIAC for their dedication to charity and education in Maryland and for their special support to the South Baltimore Learning Center.”
In 2006, the AIAC gave SBLC its first donation of $1000. Since that time, the organization through its sponsor, Mike Gallerizzo, has continued to support SBLC each year. Donations have reached up to $8,000. To date, the AIAC has given SBLC almost $40,000 in charitable contributions.
In addition, many partners and associates of the law firm of Gebhardt & Smith, where Mike Gallerizzo is a partner, have supported the SBLC Gala since 2005 with a table of tickets or a donation, providing an additional $5000 of support to the center.
Each year, the AIAC and Mike Gallerizzo have become more familiar with SBLC and its mission. SBLC board members and staff have attended the AIAC Charitable Giving: Scholarships and Awards Banquet to accept our generous donation checks and speak about SBLC.
Furthermore, Mike Gallerizzo and his wife, Susan, have visited and toured SBLC, met with learners and staff, and participated in annual meetings. As they became more familiar with SBLC, they also became more involved as volunteers and supporters, and this year joined the gala committee.
“We are thankful for AIAC’s long standing support, and for Mike and Susan’s willingness to increase their personal volunteer efforts with SBLC, said long-time SBLC Board Member Sharon Flagler. “Their energy and passion is sure to contribute to a successful and entertaining gala. Together, we hope that we can continue to expand awareness and access to education for our community.”
After being notified that AIAC would be honored, Mike Gallerizzo made the following statement: “When AIAC and I were originally introduced to SBLC, we were immediately impressed with their ongoing mission and their tireless efforts to make education available to needy adults in the Baltimore metropolitan area. Since that time, AIAC and I have significantly expanded our relationship with SBLC. My wife, Susan, and I became personally involved in helping SBLC with the preparations for its major fundraiser. Our motivation to help SBLC is garnered from its learners. The success stories of the students are motivation enough for us to do all that we can to help SBLC grow and be tremendously successful. The beneficiaries of that success will not only be the learners who graduate from SBLC, but also our community as a whole. AIAC is grateful that we are able to assist SBLC in its educational endeavors, and look forward to a very meaningful and successful partnership with SBLC for many years to come.”
SBLC is a community-based nonprofit organization providing functional literacy and life skills training in addition to career preparation services to educationally disadvantaged adults in the Baltimore area. It has been in operation since 1990 and now serves over 1,000 adults annually. For more information, visit www.southbaltimorelearns.org