United Way's ALICE Enrichment Fund Allows Dreams To Take Center Stage

Out-Of-School Activities Can Change the Trajectory of a child's life

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Out-of-school activities can be life changing. But they can also put a huge burden on the family budget. Jean, the mother of a talented teen, knows that without the help of the ALICE Enrichment Fund and other scholarships, her son may never have been given the chance to share his talents and abilities, and the opportunity to live his dream.

“It is absolutely his number one love,” Jean gushes when asked about her son Danny's involvement in musical theater.

Danny had never considered auditioning for a show and didn’t seem interested in theater. But when he was in sixth grade, his mother overheard him coaching his older sister on how to audition for the part of the maid in a middle school production of The Little Mermaid. She was so surprised at his ability to teach his sister how to perform with a French accent that she said to him, “Why don’t YOU audition for a part?”

The very next day Danny auditioned for the part of Sebastian, singing “Under the Sea.” He was only in sixth grade at the time, but he won the part, out-singing and out-performing a number of auditioning seventh- and eighth-graders.

“I think we were all just shocked at his audition,” Jean says. “He did an amazing job.”

Since then, Danny has won lead roles in a number of local youth theater productions, including Hairspray, Shrek, The Addams Family, and In the Heights. Many of the musicals are produced through a collaboration between a production company, and a local parks and recreation department. The fees to participate are typically $400 per child for the summer.

Jean has used United Way’s ALICE Enrichment Fund to help cover Danny’s participation fee for three summer productions. Through the ALICE Enrichment Fund, Danny was eligible for and received $300 per year to help offset the cost, saving his family $900.

“If it wasn’t for these funds I don’t know how I would work it out,” says Jean, a laboratory technician at a local hospital. “It’s expensive.”

Participation in theater has changed her son’s life and given him a goal. When asked if he plans to pursue the theater as a career, she laughs, saying, “He’s not planning on it; he is going to do it.”

He now attends a the Waterbury Arts Magnet School in the afternoon after attending academic classes at his town’s high school in the morning. His sights are set on the world-renowned Juilliard School.

“I’m so excited for my son,” Jean says. “He gives this 110% and his excitement is infectious.”

Please help us change more lives across Western Connecticut by donating to the ALICE Enrichment Fund.

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