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Lori Butler has been a member of the East Haven Yellowjacket Athletic Club for 12 years and is in her eighth year as the organization’s president. (Photo courtesy of Lori Butler )
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Lori Butler joined the East Haven Yellowjacket Athletic Club (EHYAC) when her son Frank entered the high school as a member of the boys’ ice hockey team in 2005. Lori has since become the EHYAC’s board president, a position that she’s held for the past eight years.
“I joined the club, so I was the [parent representative] for hockey. Each sport has their own rep, and our executive board, which I’m now president of, oversees all those sports,” says Lori, who graduated from East Haven High School in 1989. “All three of my kids [Frank, Megan, and Nikki] went through the school system and graduated from East Haven and were all athletes. This town has been good for my family, so I like to give back.”
The EHYAC represents all of East Haven’s student-athletes and oversees fundraising efforts to benefit the kids. The uniforms are already provided, but Lori’s board works to help fund things like team dinners, spirit wear, and various pieces of equipment.
“Sports come to us with fundraising ideas, asking if they can do something or not and if a goal is attainable. Typically, we’re not allowed to fundraise for things the town is supposed to provide, but we do all the extra stuff. It’s to give the kids those extras that the [Board of Education] can’t give them,” says Lori. “We give back to the athletic department and various sports, too. The executive board discusses what to do with some money that is left over for things that aren’t in the school’s budget. One year it was the batting cage, this year it was wrestling mats. It’s an ongoing thing.”
East Haven Director of Athletics Anthony Verderame loves the job that Lori does with supporting the town’s athletes. Verderame appreciates what Lori and her team are able to accomplish year after year.
“Lori has time and again been there to support our kids, our teams, our parent reps, and the athletic department,” says Verderame. “We are fortunate to have someone as caring, dedicated, and supportive as Lori in the position of president.”
Lori gives all the credit to the past and present board members of the EHYAC. The current board includes vice president Lisa Tomaso, treasurer Jean Bonanno, secretary Johanna McFarland, and sergeant-at-arms Kim Lendroth.
“I have a really good board and, if I didn’t have that strong backbone, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do and wouldn’t be able to hang on for as long as I have. I have full support. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do it,” says Lori, who was co-president with Janice Romano for one year while learning the ropes eight years ago. “The funny thing is, none of my board has children in the school. We do it because we enjoy giving back to the town and community. It’s definitely challenging because we all work full-time and have family, but with the strong group we have—and obviously all the parent reps, the support from Anthony Verderame and the administration—we’re able to pull it off. With the strong group we have, it’s all worthwhile. When the kids are happy, we’re happy.”
The EHYAC board meets once a month to review tasks at hand a month in advance. Lori says that having a parent rep for every sport is important, because they serve as liaisons to the EHYAC.
“We have one parent rep per team that does the fundraising, and we oversee it. We make sure no two sports are doing something on the same day,” she says. “We make sure there’s no overlapping and make sure everything is done within the scope of the school. Our monthly meetings keep us rolling.”
Lori feels thankful for all the people who help her, and she loves that she’s giving back to East Haven. Even though all three of her kids have graduated from high school, Lori’s role as board president of the EHYAC still means something to her on a deep level.
“I have a strong group of women with me, strong parent group. We just like to give back to our student-athletes and reward them in some way for dedicating their time,” Lori says. “They don’t have to play a sport. It’s good for them. For me, as well as my board, it’s why we stay involved. It’s a good thing to do.”
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