Christmas season is a time for giving, but on Sylvan Place in Valley Stream, that philosophy extends well into the new year.
Last Saturday, organizers of the street’s annual holiday block party made a donation to two charities, both in honor of Sylvan Place residents who died in 2013. Chris Schroeder, an 18-year-old senior at South High School, lost his battle with cancer last June while Michael Smith, who had down syndrome, died in January 2013 at 44. Each donation was for $475.
On behalf of Smith, the residents presented a check to Life’s WORC, a non-profit organization for people with developmental disabilities. Specifically, the money will go toward establishing a scholarship in Smith’s name for people to attend the Life’s Connection Through Music Program.
Participants learn from professional musicians, then put on concerts twice a year at Madison Theater. Smith was a member of the group and played the saxophone.
Accepting the donation was Tina Miller, the program’s artistic director. “The reason that we have this program,” she said, “is we want people who have a disability to make friends based on their interest in music.”
Miller said that Smith, who lived about 30 years longer than doctors expected, was one of the program’s success stories. She said he came in very shy and reserved, but quickly grew to love it and became very popular among his fellow musicians. The scholarship, she said, will keep his memory alive.
Maureen Henry, principal of South High, accepted a donation for the Chris Schroeder Memorial Scholarship Fund, which will be presented for the first time in June. It will be an annual award of $250 to a graduating senior.
Henry said that the donation from the residents of Sylvan Place was the biggest contribution so far to the scholarship fund, although she is expecting a significant amount to come in from the Class of 2013. “This way the scholarship will go on for many, many years to come,” she said.
She added that the big ceremonial check she received last weekend will hang in the school for a while, before being given to Schroeder’s parents, Wally and Carole. The Schroeders were on hand for the check presentations, and plan to be at South for the awarding of the scholarship, as well.