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Reunion class raises money for ABC house in Amherst

With both a raffle and donations, the class raised $1,218 at its reunion Nov. 23, money that was donated directly to Amherst A Better Chance, which annually houses several students from urban areas who become part of a graduating class at the high school.

For Ricardo Burton, who lived at the house from 1998 to 2002, the gesture on the part of his classmates was appreciated.

“For the class to come up with doing this charity, with all proceeds from the reunion for the ABC house, is wonderful,” Burton said.

The reunion committee came up with the idea when its members learned that the program was losing United Way funding, which amounts to about $13,000 annually, said class secretary Gino Sorcinelli.

Members of the class, including treasurer Anda Greeney, who initially suggested the concept of a class gift, and vice president Georgia Jenkins and Lauren Burke, then developed ways to raise the money, Sorcinelli said.

This included putting on a raffle, suggested by classmate Candice Connors, who owns Jackson & Connor in Northampton, and assisted by Dan Cutler and Brooke Shippa, that included tickets and gift certificates.

“It’s one of those things that has started small and exploded into a high-energy event that everyone is really excited about,” Sorcinelli said.

The class also set up a website to continue accepting donations.

There are many connections between the class and the ABC house. Besides having two former ABC students, Burton and Nathan Prince, as members, the class also includes Antonio Lewis, the son of Bryant Lewis, who was then the program’s house parent as well as a dean at the high school.

“There is a good group of people in the class who feel grateful to Amherst for what people gave to them, and they want to give back in a meaningful way,” Sorcinelli said.

Burton, who grew up in Mattapan, said choosing to get out of the city was one of the biggest decisions of his life.

He still fondly reflects on his time in Amherst, including community endeavors, such as volunteering at the Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast. Burton said he built lifelong connections with those in Amherst, especially fellow ABC students. “We don’t call ourselves classmates, we call ourselves brothers,” Burton said.

John Sieracki, president of the Amherst ABC board, said it shows how the program touches lives even beyond those who live at the house.

“It’s obviously wonderful and much appreciated at this time,” Sieracki said.

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