West Akron Kiwanis fund Red Chair - Akron Symphony Orchestra

West Akron Kiwanis fund Red Chair

January 15, 2017

West Akron Kiwanis fund Red Chair

It started, like many things do, with a simple desire to make a difference.

That desire paid off in a big way in November when the West Akron Kiwanis made a $5,000 donation to the Akron Symphony Orchestra to fund a Red Chair for the assistant conductor position, which is currently held by Eric Benjamin.

The Red Chair Society is designed to provide full funding for the orchestra’s non-principal musicians for one year and a long-term sustainable source of funding for the orchestra.

“We are proud of the longtime financial investment West Akron Kiwanis has made to our Akron Youth Symphony,” said Director of Advancement Peter Grossetti, who received the sponsorship check at the organization’s monthly meeting in November.  “And to have them increase their level of support this year is a true testament to the spirit of their motto: changing the world one child and one community at a time.”

The West Akron Kiwanis have generously supported the Akron Youth Symphony for more than 15 years with proceeds from their annual pancake breakfast. The event has grown in recent years under the leadership of William Melver, the organization’s current president, and the support of youth orchestra parents like Renee Dee, who suggested having youth orchestra members play at the breakfast.

“I am so proud of our club because of what we accomplish for the community,” Melver said. “We want to put our money to good use, and when you can see the results that makes us feel good and realize that we are on the right track.”

The connection between the orchestra and the West Akron Kiwanis dates back to the 1990s thanks to Blin Scatterday, a former orchestra board member, longtime math professor at The University of Akron and former Kiwanis member. Scatterday’s son, Mark, was playing in the Akron Symphony Youth Orchestra at the time and the Kiwanis were looking to support musical education.

“Children are an important part of the mission of the Kiwanis and music is an important part of a child’s life, so they naturally go together,” Scatterday said. “We wanted to do something and I suggested that we give the money to the orchestra as it provided a chance for us to strengthen the music program in Akron, which is important.”

The need to support musical education has grown in recent years as more schools face budget cuts, making the youth orchestra a priority for the Kiwanis, according to Melver.

“As we see what is happening in the public schools, where many of the music programs are cut, there is a void that needs to be filled,” he said. “It is important to keep music and the arts as part of the students’ education and maturation process. I don’t think there are too many communities of this size that achieve the types of things that we achieve.

“We have some generous people in this community and they step up when they see a need is there.”

The West Akron Kiwanis will hold their 28th annual Pancake Breakfast on April 29, 2017, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, located at 1250 W. Exchange St. in Akron. Placemat advertisements, at $75 each, are still available.

For more information, contact William Melver at 330.256.0741 or by email at wmelver@gmail.com.

To learn more about how you can sponsor a Red Chair, or to discuss additional giving options, contact Director of Advancement Peter Grossetti at 330.535.8131.