by Crystal Proxmire
Love is not just about the romantic kind expressed on Valentine’s Day. It’s about the warmth in the heart that is felt when seeing someone else accomplish their dreams. It is love for the community and of education that has fueled the Forum Foundation’s work for the past 29 years.
The Foundation began in 1983 as a way to fund educational forums, and in 1995 shifted their focus to providing scholarships to LGBT students in the state of Michigan. They give an average of $2,000 a year, and they raise that money through events like the upcoming Valentines Dance.
Of course, Forum Foundation Treasurer John DiDinato wants as many people to attend the dance as possible. But he also hopes people will consider being supportive in other ways.
“We don’t have as many people on the Board as we used to, and it’s hard for ten or twelve people to do everything,” he said, noting that four people have stepped down in recent months, each one leaving, happily, to tend to new arrivals in their families.
“We could use a few more people on the board,” DiDinato said. “But even if people are too busy to join a board, we’re looking for people to help at events – volunteers to help set up and decorate, and people to help with the silent auction. People can do these kinds of things and it helps.”
The Valentine’s Dance takes place at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Warren on Friday, Feb. 10, 2012 from 7 p.m. to midnight. It includes a family-style dinner, open bar, and dessert, plus dancing, 50/50 raffle & silent auction!
The proceeds go towards the group’s scholarship fund. “It’s important because now more than ever there’s a need for assistance,” DiDinato said. “We do scholarships for college and for vocational training because we recognize college isn’t for everyone.”
DiDinato is a lifelong educator who has taught every age from kindergarten to grade 12, primarily in Centerline Public Schools and East Detroit Public Schools.
“When I was going to school I was fortunate to have help from my parents, I was able to work in a shop during the summer – we made sun visors for cars. And when I wanted to get my teaching certification it was covered by the GI bill. I know a lot of people may not have supportive parents or those that can afford to send them to school. People may not have the same opportunities that I had.”
“Recently I learned that one of our previous scholarship winners is going on to law school,” DiDinato said. “It feels good to see people moving forward, and hopefully going on to give back to the community too.”