In celebration of 75 years of service, North Light Community Center looks to its roots as it honors some major benefactors at its Hobo Ball on Saturday evening at Artesano Gallery in Manayunk. North Light Community Center has served the Roxborough-Manayunk community by assistin countless individuals and brightened the lives of many children through its programs.
The list of award recipients reads as a who’s who of the movers and shakers of the area. Some are well-known personalities, business men and women, community leaders and others are ordinary folks who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make a difference.
Christopher McGill of East River Bank will be presented with the Ann Wright Founder’s Award. The award was named in honor of the school principal who founded North Light. Dan Neducsin and his wife, Luana, will be honored with the Education Philanthropy Award for their foundation’s support of the hundreds of thousands of dollars for local scholarships, the most well-known being the “Spirit of Manayunk” scholarship.
“We not only ask that applicants have great grades but also serve in the community,” said Neducsin. “They have been a model for me and a great experience.”
Neducsin credits his wife as the driving force behind their philanthropy. According to Neducsin, even after graduation, his wife Luana has remained in contact with scholarship recipients reaching back 20 years. The Neducsins have been involved with North Light for 20 years and counting.
“[North Light] is a wonderful place and I wish more realized what they did,” said Neducsin.
Since 1936, North Light has worked to make the critical difference in the quality of life in the neighborhood. It has served as a central focus of community life and the meeting ground for diverse community activities. Over the years, North Light evolved from a drop-in center for boys into a multi-service center with an ever increasing mix of offerings from arts and recreation programs to employment services and emergency support.
Keeping in theme with the evening, event sponsors will be having their names printed on burlap. Parting gifts will be wrapped in handkerchiefs tied to sticks, evocative of the hobo theme of riding the rails. The picture on the invitations is of a train pulling out of Manayunk station, located a few hundred yards from where the event will be held. Weather permitting a vintage era car will also be on display.
Rick Carocci, formerly of Trans American Office Furniture, will receive the Corporate Community Advocate Award for opening so many doors for North Light. Jane Lipton, Executive Director of the Manayunk Development Corporation will be receiving the John J. Willard Community Award for her years of service, not just to North Light, but to the entire community.
“It’s an honor to be receiving this award,” said Lipton. “For 20 years, I have sat underneath this oil painting hanging in [North Light Executive Director] Irene Madrak’s office of this man who this award is named after and sometimes I laugh because [John Willard] did so much for this community. It is pretty amazing.”
Others being recognized for their outstanding contributions are: Rev. Francis Sabatini, former pastor of St. Lucy’s Roman Catholic Church, Rev. Kirk Berlenbach from St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, Sylvia Meyers who, along with her late husband Nick, is a leader of the historical society, Karen Sears, president of the local Kiwanis Chapter, John Boyce, head of Friends of Gorgas Park, Winnie Clowry, Winnie’s LeBus, and Michael Rose, Manayunk brewery & Restaurant, who have hosted many events for North Light, Kay Sykora, executive director of the Schuylkill Project and Victor Ostroff, former owner of Poland’s Jewelers.
“I grew up in the neighborhood and used the facilities at North Light a lot,” said Boyce. “North Light has always been a great asset to the community and is more vital now than ever before. If anyone is looking for a cause to support, look no further than North Light.”
The “Hobo Ball” at 7 p.m. on Saturday will be a celebration of the accomplishments of North Light and its partners and will include cocktails, food, entertainment and dancing. For more information about the event or North Light, call 215-483-4800 or visit www.northlightcommunitycenter.org.