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After our first recital, I realized that the dancers and families involved at PCDC could do great things as a team. It is then that our “community service” activities became a permanent part of the dance school. Since that time, I am proud of the many charities and organizations that we have assisted by doing what we do best – DANCE!

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As a teacher, I have felt a responsibility – a huge responsibility to both the dancers and the parents who entrusted their precious children with me. I felt that along with teaching and training lovely dancers, I wanted to do more. With so many people coming through the doors at 55 Spring Street each week, it was decided that teamwork, friendship, volunteerism, respect, and community service would also be a part of the school curriculum. The project didn’t have a name back then. But as I reflect on the past years, I think “COFFEY AND COMMUNITY” suits it well.

The following is a partial list of projects that stand out in my mind as the most worthwhile and important. Of course, I have probably forgotten more than I remember, but the following list and so many others are and were very important to both workers who volunteered and the recipients who reaped the rewards of the workers:

  • In the early days of PCDC, we performed regularly at the Brockton Veterans Hospital. Entering the hospital was an experience for our young dancers. It was a “lock down” situation. It was a bit scary… but the response from the patients was worth it all.
  • We did fall and spring shows at both the Paul Dever School in Taunton and the Wrentham State School. We brought costumes, music, and lots of fun into the lives of the patients at both facilities.
  • I don’t think we have ever missed having the largest and most enthusiastic group in the annual Tri-Town Veterans Day Parade. In addition to marching, we talk about the veterans and remind our dancers of the sacrifices that so many have made. We have tried to instill a sense of pride in the American flag and we want our students to feel that it is an honor to come out and pay tribute to our Veterans.
  • We took part in the Guild Gaeties. The show was produced to raise funds for the Brockton Hospital. It was very exciting! The director, script, and costumes came in from NYC and auditioned local talent. A very worthwhile charity and lots of fun for us.
  • We held the first and most successful “Dance For Heart” in the state of Massachusetts. We raised $9000 in one afternoon at EBHS. The entire student body worked towards the success of this event which was dedicated to my mother, Sylvia Ortenzi. She had suffered with heart disease for more than seventeen years. The American Heart Association was the recipient of our fundraising for many years after that successful event.
  • photo (12)After learning about the great program that the New York based Guide Dog Association was doing, we selected it as our “target” for fundraising for several years. We raised $6000 for the GDA. By donating that amount we were able to name our dog. We named her Dancer. Hopefully she is still working and helping a sight impaired person.
  • Two years ago, we initiated a “Community Service” group at our annual summer camp. We have completed several projects, including our local nursing home.
  • For more than 25 years, the Dance Center has awarded several scholarships to graduates at EBHS and BRRHS. We chose those schools because the bulk of our student body resides in the towns of East Bridgewater and Bridgewater.
  • My husband, Jim, and I chaired several very successful shows for the EB Lions Club. All the monies raised by the Lions is dedicate to eye research. This was a fun project, but more importantly it brought the community together and made people aware of the charitable work done by Lions International.
  • For many years our “troupe of dancers” has entertained the patients at local nursing homes. Christmas parties, spring teas, pre-recital event – moms and dancers being unselfish with their time and talents.
  • Our Competition Teams have been a part of the Fitness Fair at Whitman Hanson High School for several years. This event promotes healthy eating and exercise as a way of life.
  • I have been a judge for the very successful Mr. EBHS – this event is held annually to raise funds for EBHS activities.
  • For more than thirty years, my husband, Jim, and I have chaired a national scholarship program for graduating seniors. In the years that we have been involved, almost $200,000 in CASH SCHOLARSHIPS have been awarded to local young women who are planning to further their education.
  • The school has supported the local Kiwanis Club events – we take part in the parades, shows, and fundraisers. In turn the Kiwanis awards almost $10,000 annually to local college-bound graduates.
  • Team DisneyWe were the first group involved in raising funds for the Family Inn in Boston. The family of Jamie Fiske, a dancer at PCDC and one of the first and youngest to receive a kidney transplant, was instrumental in refurbishing the home. The Family Inn is a place where families who come to Boston from and around the world can call home while their loved ones are receiving medical care. One of the events was a sold-out fashion show at Ridders Country Club. Our teachers, their families, and our dance families again gave unselfishly of their time.
  • We worked with the Paraclete Center in Boston and dedicated several years of fundraising to build the first women’s school in Rwanda. How did the Coffey school raise this money? By selling coffee cakes, o course. The school is now open, and we are regularly updated on their progress.
  • We assisted fundraising for the Lady of the Lakes Church in Halifax for more than ten years. We did this by being a part of their Christmas events.
  • Many, many individual fundraisers have been held for students who have lost a parent; students with rare diseases; parents who have fallen on hard times and other personal tragedies that we felt the need to help. These efforts have been the most rewarding because we got to see firsthand how much the work on this end is appreciated and life-changing for others.
  • We have recently adopted the Mass Down Syndrome Council as a worthwhile recipient of our efforts. The flower sales, refreshment sales, and the raffles that are held in the lobby on recital day are now earmarked to the MDSC.
  • photo (9)For many years we collected and delivered truckloads of new toys at Christmastime to the Home for Little Wanderers in Boston.
  • We have supported the “Coats for Kids” project sponsored by Anton’s Cleaners for the past five years.
  • Our dances were invited for many years to be a part of the Northeastern University fundraising events.
  • This spring we were invited to be a part of the Grand Opening of the new Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown. Several of our dancers were patients at the hospital and ultimately had very successful recoveries due to the outstanding care at Spaulding.
  • We were regular contributors to the “Newspaper in Education” – a program sponsored by the Brockton Enterprise. The program distributes newspapers to local schools and encourages students to keep up to date with local and world news.
  • The Dance Center sponsored many teams for Cancer Walks. We have contributed generously over the years in the hopes that the ongoing research could find a cure.
  • I remember Minstrel Shows and events for the EB Commercial Club and St. John’s Church… lots of fun and excellent fundraisers for our local community. The Commercial Club is a huge supporter of all youth activities in EB.

I am sure I have forgotten many of the projects we have been involved in over the fifty year period of the school… but the ones listed are the highlights of our efforts.

I have listed all of these things as projects of PCDC, but none could have been successful without the generosity of our “dance family.” Thank you dancers, parents, friends, and teachers for being a part of so many wonderful events. Without you, none of these projects could have succeeded and our dancers would not know how good it feels to be a part of a team that is helping where help is desperately needed.

MISS PAULA