It was a joyful evening of “celebrating the past and building for tomorrow.” The Top of the Campus (Marriott Center) at UMass was standing room only, as founding members of Amherst ABC, Scholar graduates spanning the 50 years of the program, and a vast array of community members and supporters all gathered to recognize this transformative program and to honor the multitude of individuals and organizations who have done so much to make the program possible and to sustain it over all these years.
A highlight of the evening was certainly the recognition of the two special honorees: Judy and Barry Brooks. Amherst ABC alum, Victor Alexander ’85 and former Resident Director Talib Sadiq presented Barry with a beautifully crafted cherry wood sign to be mounted on a wall of the “Judy and Barry Brooks Study Center.” [A newly established Judy and Barry Brooks Study Center Fund will be used for programmatic support (e.g., SAT prep classes, college visits, tutoring support) as well as equipment upgrades for the rooms in the Study Center.]
As the grand finale of the gala dinner, a number of Amherst A Better Chance alumni, representing each of the five decades, spoke with such passion and eloquence about their experiences in the program and about how transformative their time as ABC Scholars was. Our current Scholars, sitting at a head table with Resident Directors Sid and Isabel Ferreira, understood that they are indeed part of a movement – one that will surely endure. In the words of returning alum Harold Carter ’90:
“The work that has been done in Amherst for over 50 years is mind-boggling and I was fortunate to be a part of the great tradition and community that I consider a second home.”
The 50th anniversary gala not only celebrated our ABC community, it provided us with the opportunity to ensure support for future scholars. Thank you to all our generous supporters and enthusiastic attendees! We appreciate you all as we look forward to the next fifty years!