Donates $100,000 to Mahopac athletes
When the Mahopac School District slashed its 2006-2007
budget earlier this month by eliminating $1 million
in funding for all scholastic sports programs, the
community met the problem head-on by forming the
Mahopac Activities Coalition to help restore sports
to the schools.
MAC got a big boost in its fundraising efforts late
last week when the Camarda Charitable Foundation donated
$100,000, providing a cash transfusion toward the $345,667
needed by September 1 to insure that the schools will
have sports in September.
The donation represents nearly 30 percent of the needed
down payment on sports.
"This is an extraordinary act of generosity,"
said David Furfaro, one of the organizers of the
Mahopac Activities Coalition. "This donation
is a tremendous jumpstart for our coalition and
gives all of us hope that we will be able to raise
the money that we need to save sports and extracurricular
activities in Mahopac. We are grateful to Paul
Camarda, who recognized our difficult situation
and came to the rescue."
MAC was created by parents, teachers, sports boosters
and the Mahopac Board of Education after the proposed
school budget was rejected twice, forcing the board
to institute a mandated contingency budget. The new
budget called for cuts of more than $2 million, $1 million
of which eliminated sports, clubs and drama programs.
Under the MAC plan students must pay $408 to participate
on a sports team, in drama club or in band. Students
participating in after-school clubs must pay $75.
Nick Alosco, a varsity hockey and baseball player
at Mahopac entering his senior year, was busy playing
in a baseball showcase tournament in Myrtle Beach,
South Carolina with the Hudson Valley Bulls this
week. He heard about the donation before leaving
for the tournament.
"What Mr. Camarda is doing is so great, it's ridiculous
how much money he's giving," Alosco said. "He
really gets it, that kids need to have sports. I wish
there were 10 more people like him. I personally want
to thank him for helping us. We're extremely grateful."
The Camarda Charitable Foundation was established
in June by Paul Camarda of Camarda Realty Investments,
a real estate investment firm based in Carmel. The
foundation's first grant was a $500,000 gift to
Putnam Hospital Center's capital campaign to build
a new building.
"We created the Camarda Charitable Foundation
to help community groups just like the Mahopac Activities
Coalition," Camarda said. "I believe that
sports and extracurricular activities are a very
important component of the educational experience
and the Mahopac students to have these activities."
According to Mahopac Sports Association and MAC
organizer John Malara, the community has been very
cooperative despite the added cost. No other school
district in the Westchester/Putnam schools has
had its sports programs cut due to a contingency
"We know that it can be difficult for families
to pay for one or more children to play a sport, but
we wanted to maintain the great programs we have here,"
Residents in the Hendrick Hudson school District
also rejected the proposed 2006-2007 budget but
despite a mandated contingency budget the board
kept its sports programs intact except for two freshman
and junior varsity teams.
"This is an early Christmas present for every
student in Mahopac," Furfaro said. "We never
expected to receive this level of donation from anyone.
Hopefully, others will step forward to help out."