Paris Grateful for Strong Project Graduation Partnerships
In her last year co-chairing Project Graduation, Amy Paris is gratified to report this year’s fundraising effort, still underway, is exceeding expectations.
“To date, we have raised $31,500; and we’re still trying to raise more money,” Amy shares.
Amy feels it’s all due to the remarkable partnerships this important cause has developed to gain community support and the generosity of businesses, individuals, and organizations.
It’s also due to fantastic partnerships among Project Graduation’s committees, parents, volunteers, and, of course, the dynamic co-chair duo of Amy and her friend, Sarah Celotto.
“We just want to say a huge ‘Thank you,’” says Amy. “We are so grateful for the community’s support. It’s unbelievable. This is the most we’ve ever raised.”
The point of Project Graduation is to provide every graduate with a memorable day-into-night, substance-free celebration which keeps the entire senior class together and safe on graduation night.
Thanks to exceeding all expectations, the entire Guilford High School (GHS) Class of 2023—some 300 strong—will be able to attend this year’s Project Graduation party at no cost. The party at Chelsea Piers in Stamford will include a host of fun activities, entertainment, food, and giveaways. Free bus transportation is also provided.
“As far back as I can remember, there’s always been a charge for Project Graduation. Sometimes, it’s been up to $75, even with all of the fundraising,” says Amy. “But this year, because we have raised so much money, there’s no charge. It’s free of charge for all kids to go, which we’re just thrilled about.”
Through the years, Amy and Sarah (a past Person of the Week) have been involved as Guilford Public School parent volunteers as well as Project Graduation volunteers and co-chairs.
“Sarah and I have known each other since our children, who are graduating now, were together at Guilford Lakes, and we have worked on the PTO in every single school since then. So I’ve done a bunch of fundraisers and all kinds of stuff with her. She’s a really good friend,” says Amy.
Amy has co-chaired Project Graduation for the GHS graduating classes of 2020, 2021, and 2023.
“It’s always our intent to provide Project Graduation as a gift for the class and to have them not have to pay,” says Amy. “And even with the generosity of the community, it’s never worked out that way. But because we have raised so much this year, there’s no charge, which is just fantastic.”
This year’s enormous fundraising success wasn’t on the radar when Project Graduation planning got underway in the fall, Amy adds. As a self-supporting organization independent of financial support from GPS, this year’s original Project Graduation goal was to raise $18,000.
“That pretty much covered all of our expenses, and it was really the low end of what we needed to raise; because we also need to leave seed money for the Class of 2024,” Amy explains. “So we got out there early, sending out donation letters and setting up fundraisers, and the community just stepped up.”
Due to rising costs, expenses have continued to rise on this year’s Project Graduation price tag, she adds.
“We’re seeing all kinds of price increases across the board, from food to the buses, which is another reason why we’re so grateful to have raised as much as we have so far,” says Amy. “We just feel really blessed and grateful.”
The additional funding has also allowed for more entertainment options, as well as additional exciting raffle items given away to graduates throughout the night.
During the Project Graduation party, parents of freshmen through juniors provide most of the volunteer manpower, chaperoning, and other management needs. This year’s Project Graduation kicks off shortly after graduation night on Friday, June 16. Graduates will meet at GHS and travel to and from Stamford by bus.
“Sarah and I will be there to see them off on the buses and to kick it off to the 9th through 11th-grade parents. We try to have them volunteer as a way to pay it forward to the senior parents,” says Amy.
Right now, Project Graduation contributions are very welcome to keep this year’s momentum going and to help build up a better start for next year. In addition to donating online (go.rallyup.com/2023-gasping-donation), Project Graduation offers GHS graduate yard signs for purchase (go.rallyup.com/2023-yard-sign) and also shepherds Flock A Friend (go.rallyup.com/flock-a-friend).
Each Flock a Friend donation directs a flock of pink, plastic flamingos to a local address to help celebrate a graduate, spring athlete, birthday, anniversary, or any other special occasion.
“That’s our current fundraiser, and it’s actually one of my favorite fundraisers,” Amy says. “For $25, you can flock to a friend or a business in Guilford. It puts a smile on someone’s face, and all the proceeds go back to Project Graduation.”
As this year’s Project Graduation winds down, it’s also time for Amy to step down. As the newly-hired administrative assistant for The Guilford Foundation and Branford Community Foundation, the timing is actually perfect, she says.
“It’s perfect timing and a perfect transition because I’ve worked with many of the same people and organizations through the years. So it’s a nice transition for me.”
For instructions to mail a donation to Project Graduation, or for more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com