Huntington teacher James Graber with HFEE Youth Board members.

Huntington Foundation’s Youth Board Adds Spice

Huntington teacher James Graber with HFEE Youth Board members. (Cliff Weissman photo.)

April 6, 2018

Eight Huntington High School seniors have helped add some spice to the Huntington Foundation for Excellence in Education, serving on the organization’s youth board throughout the 2017/18 school year.

Francine Nastasi, Kyle Chin, Bethany Danzinger, Abby Fernandez, Casey Moskowitz, Alyssa Befumo, Zach McGinniss and Rachel Moss have been attending planning meetings, pitching in to help where needed and learning a great deal about the not-for-profit group that has donated more than $1 million to the district since its founding to support innovative classroom education and program initiatives.

“Serving on the Huntington Foundation’s Youth Board was an all-around great experience,” Mr. McGinniss said. “Going into it, I had little knowledge of what HFEE was, so I was excited to learn all about it along the way. Now knowing how large of an impact the organization has on Huntington UFSD, I’m happy that I can say I helped contribute to that.”

The eight teenagers recently assisted at HFEE’s annual gala at OHEKA Castle. The affair raised tens of thousands of dollars, which the organization intends to plow back into the district through its two grant programs.

“The HFEE Youth Board has been a great experience this year,” Ms. Moskowitz said. “The gala was amazing and I am glad that I was able to be a part of making it as great as it was. From greeting people at the door to pulling raffle tickets, it was a super fun night. I have loved being on the HFEE Youth Board.”

Ms. Nastasi is interning with Huntington Foundation President Alice Marie Rorke. The senior has attended fundraising and grant writing seminars and learned all the ins and outs of HFEE’s own grant programs. She even penned letters to businesses seeking support for the recent gala.

“HFEE is an amazing organization and I’m so lucky to be one of the interns,” Ms. Nastasi said. “I’ve learned so much throughout this experience and loved being a part of it.”

Mr. Chin created a promotional video for the organization, which was shown and well-received during the OHEKA Castle gala. He quickly became an essential member of the Huntington Foundation’s core group.

“As a member of the HFEE Youth Board, I have come to appreciate the dedication of school and community volunteers and how they come together to provide the students in our district with all the ‘extras,’” Mr. Chin said. “I have learned that even in the public school system we are fortunate to experience so many additional programs, equipment and support through HFEE. I will take with me the belief that ‘where there is a will, there is a way.’ Learning about the grant process, fundraising efforts and organized teamwork will be beneficial to me in college and beyond. I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of such a dedicated organization, which truly serves to benefit all students in our district.”

Ms. Fernandez interned with Mrs. Rorke and gala chairperson Kimberley Steinberg, planning details for the 25th anniversary gala that drew a crowd of 350 to the famed Gold Coast estate. The teenager learned all about large event planning and what goes into making such an undertaking successful.

“Through HFEE I have learned the true responsibilities of not only a student, but also an event planner,” Ms. Fernandez said. “These small, but important responsibilities such as punctuality, communication and organization are the key to success in not only event planning, but in every situation that life decides to throw at me, especially in college next year.”

Ms. Moss is headed to Cornell University in the fall. She will take with her many important lessons she has learned over the past year. “Being on the HFEE Youth Board for the second consecutive year was an extremely fulfilling and enjoyable experience,” she said. “It’s so amazing to see how much money can be raised to fund amazing opportunities in our district. I’m so lucky to have been chosen for the youth board and have complete confidence that next year’s students will do a great job.”

Huntington Foundation President Alice Marie Rorke (fourth from left) with members of the youth board.
Huntington Foundation President Alice Marie Rorke (fourth from left) with members of the youth board.
Huntington Foundation Youth Board members attended the recent gala. (Cliff Weissman photo.)
Huntington Foundation Youth Board members attended the recent gala. (Cliff Weissman photo.)
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