25 Years
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Dueling Piano Fundraiser Hits All the Right Notes for Seeds of Literacy

On June 9, The Music Box Supper Club provided a much needed escape on the water for the Seeds of Literacy Family. 

Two-hundred guests — including sponsors, long-time tutors, board and staff members, along with new friends —filled the concert hall overlooking Lake Erie. Tables were adorned with eclectic vases and summer bouquets, artfully designed by intern Juice McKenna. A row of silent auction items lined the wall, ready for eager bidders.

Two white pianos were placed center stage in anticipation of a lively event promoting literacy — an event that should have been held 2 years ago. 

STUDENTS SHARE THEIR STORIES

Before performers took their seats at the piano benches, guests heard from two very grateful student speakers. 

Ernestine said what a privilege it is, not only to attend Seeds, but to speak to the audience that day. “I never thought, in my wildest dreams, that I’d be standing up and talking about myself,” she admitted. “I used to be so shy, but now I feel so free.” 

In the last year, she lost both her youngest daughter and oldest son. During the most unimaginably heartbreaking time in her life, Seeds gave her stability. “When I walk into the classroom, I feel so loved. It’s like a family. I’m not just saying that…I feel that this classroom setting is more of a close-knit relationship for me.” 

Ernestine set high goals for herself. She wants to write an autobiography about her struggles, personal life, and marriage as a blended family. “And Seeds is where I’m going to start my book. Just start writing,” she said. She also wants to pursue a degree in social work once she earns her GED. 

Aliyia shared that she was surprised that studying for her GED was not as hard as she assumed. “A lot of other programs don’t do this, but Seeds is a program where tutors sit down with you, one-to-one, to help you with subjects that are more difficult than others. It helps me to understand what is being taught because they’ll stay on the subject as long as it takes to know how to do it on your own.” 

‘I feel comfortable and it gives me a lot of confidence to not give up,” she continued. Aliyia said she wants to go to school for business, or maybe architecture, after earning her GED. She wants to showcase her artistic skills – building dollhouses, painting – “Because there are a lot of things I can do and that I can show the world.” 

PERFORMERS TAKE THE STAGE

The T&Rich Dueling Piano Show are no strangers to performing in the Flats…and they weren’t strangers to many of the guests either. Board member Steve Ligus and wife Heather (pictured far left) are self-proclaimed groupies, even having the duo perform at their home one summer. Their enthusiasm was infectious. “This was our date night,” Heather said. 

No song was out of the question, the Duo said, as long as the request “came with some green.” They played everything from Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline to Outkast’s Hey Ya. Nearly $500 in tips and song requests went in their jar, and at the end of the event, the jar was generously donated to Seeds. 

CRITICAL FUNDS RAISED

Seeds of Literacy does not have any guaranteed annual funding or earned revenue, so fundraising events like Dueling Pianos  help raise the money to cover operating costs each and every year. 

More than $86,000 was raised thanks to generous guests, silent auction winners, and incredible sponsors like Carnegie Management & Development Corporation and FirstEnergy Foundation. 

Special thanks goes to George Miller, former Board of Trustees Chairman, who stood in for current Chair Jonathan Khouri, and of course, to Bill Litzler, an excellent auctioneer of the Goodyear Blimp!

Click Here for a Complete List of Event Sponsors

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