‘Taste of Excellence’ supports local schools
By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Somers - posted Thu., Oct. 27, 2011
The Knights of Columbus Hall in Somers was the place to be on Oct. 22, when the Somers Education Foundation held its third annual “Taste of Excellence,” its largest fundraiser of the year.
For a $30 contribution, guests sampled a variety of fine wines, beers, ciders and spirits, as well as an assortment of appetizers and desserts from local area restaurants, while also supporting a good cause.
Founded in 2004 by Lou Bachetti and Dr. Paul Salva, the SEF is a private, sustainable endowment for the public schools in Somers made up of nine voting board members and five additional ex-officio members who review and award grant requests from teachers and departments in the school system.
More than just a gap-filler for funding shortages, the SEF provides grants to departments or teachers for innovative projects and programs in the Somers school system that help to keep the focus on excellence in the schools, said Bachetti, who serves as president of the foundation.
Bachetti said some of the items funded by SEF include the VEX robotics program, climbing walls at the elementary school for their physical education program, a grant to help classes conduct forensic investigations, funding for a school newspaper, staff training programs, an auditorium sound system, digital cameras for the math classes, and white marker boards.
“There are 20 grant applications for the next round of funding,” Bachetti said.
“The vision for the ‘Taste of Excellence’ event was my idea, but it was Lou that made it happen,” said Salva, the group’s vice president. “He moved this off of paper into reality. He was the head of Goodwill Industries and he has the organizational expertise to get things done.”
Salva said this year the tickets practically sold themselves, adding that the foundation has been very fortunate to have the sponsorship of local businesses as well as partnerships and support from local and area restaurants and wine and beer distributors. “Our 10-year goal is to award $250,000 in grants. I think that’s doable,” he said.
“We’ve given over $120,000 to the school system so far over the years,” said Bachetti. “It’s good for the teachers because they can use their own creativity to expand on what they can do. It’s been a good marriage.”