By SUE SUCHYTA
A foundation founded in the shadow of loss will provide an opportunity for young girls to shine in the spotlight, thanks to scholarships provided by An Amazing Woman Foundation.
When Jennifer Garbovan, 21, was killed in a car crash Sept. 6, 2014, her mother, Sandy, wondered what she would do with her empty hours now that her daughter, who loved to perform, was gone.
“She was our only child, so she was the focus of my entire being,” Garbovan said. “I said, ‘What do I do now that she is gone? Where do I focus all that attention and energy?’”
Garbovan thought of creating a scholarship in Jennifer’s memory, but wanted to do more than a one-time gesture.
The result is An Amazing Woman Foundation, designed to help pay for performing art opportunities for girls – like singing or dance lessons, or theater camp – that they might not otherwise be able to afford.
Garbovan decided to help young girls because she felt they struggle with self-confidence and self-esteem.
“They are just surrounded with so many things in the world these days that can tear them down,” she said. “I didn’t want any other young girl to end up in the same situation as my daughter – beautiful, smart, talented, funny, just a joy to be around – but was influenced by the wrong people and the wrong things.”
The first benefit to fund the foundation, Opening Night: An Evening to Remember, runs from 5 to 11 p.m. June 6 at the James R. DeSana Center for Arts and Culture, 81 Chestnut St. in Wyandotte.
Tickets are $25, and available in advance and at the door. For more information, call 734-759-7770, or go to anamazingwomanfoundation.org.
In addition to musical performances all evening long, the event will feature hors d’oeuvres by Taylor Made Catering, Jay Ray’s BBQ, silent auction items, and art displays.
Performers include Annye Harris, rapper Lucy V, the band Ides of March, and Victoria Marie.
The blues band Howling Mercy will perform, as will Kevin Sands, a Frank Sinatra, big band style singer, and the Purple Gang, a ’60s style garage band.
Students from Adriane Galea studio of voice and piano, where Jennifer once sang, will perform, as will Detroit’s Ballet Folklorico, a Mexican dance group.
Garbovan hopes the foundation will establish an ongoing presence, with several performances a year, whether music or theater.
“I just wanted something that would be a legacy for Jennifer,” Garbovan said. “I didn’t want her short life to not have counted for anything. So her being the inspiration behind this, I kind of feel like her spirit lives on through that, and I really hope that we can help a lot of other girls.”
Jennifer Garbovan danced for a few years at the Beverly Morrison School of Dance in Wyandotte, and she acted at the Downriver Youth Performing Arts Center, at the former Taylor Youth Theater, with Show Biz Kidz in Taylor, and several other local community theaters.
Jennifer, a soprano, studied voice with Tracy King, and with Adriane Galea, who is on the board of directors for An Amazing Woman Foundation, and who is recruiting many of the benefit’s performers.
Garbovan said scholarship applications are being accepted through Aug. 14, and she would like to award the first scholarships in early September, which will mark the first anniversary of Jennifer’s death, as well as coinciding with the start of the school year.
She said the scholarships are designed to help pay for things like lessons, costumes and performing arts summer camps.
“I want to give them the same opportunity that Jennifer had, and hopefully they will spread their wings and fly,” Garbovan said. “We say the goal of The Amazing Woman Foundation is to do develop amazing women, so they go into the world and do amazing things, not only for themselves, but for their communities. It should be something that carries on in their life.”
Garbovan said she knows some other families who have lost young people, and they have retreated into seclusion, while she has done the opposite.
“I don’t know why I find it more important to go out and be proactive, and try to make something good out of it,” Garbovan said. “I say it is because I am Type A and am just one of those workaholic sort of people, I create work for myself to do.”
She said the work of the foundation also helps with her healing.
“My only hope is that I hope I can make something good out of something that’s so awful,” she said.
Scholarship applications are on their website, anamazingwomanfoundation.org.
PGD ANNOUNCES GUILDLING SUMMER SHOW CASTS
The Players Guild of Dearborn summer Guildling shows have been cast, with “The Addams Family” musical for teens running July 16 to 19, and Disney’s “The Little Mermaid Jr.” running Aug. 6 to 9 for preteens.
Brian Townsend of Dearborn will direct “The Addams Family,” with Carissa Madley of Redford Township as the music director, and Emma Garber of Dearborn as the choreographer.
The cast includes: Trevor Berry as Gomez; Jenny Lessnau of Livonia as Morticia; Lia Bertucci of Dearborn as Wednesday; Kyle David Cochran of Canton Township as Uncle Fester; Peter Moore of Dearborn as Pugsley; Marjorie Gaber of Dearborn as Grandmama; Ian Duma as Lurch; Allen Maxson as Mal Beineke; Rachel Ogger of Livonia as Alice Beineke; and William Dunn of Taylor as Lucas Beineke.
The Addams ancestors include: Dearborn residents Matt Apostle, Grace Bertucci, Katie Rose Garber, Andrew Ozwald, Emma Scott, Heather Slanec and Noah Wisniewski; Quinn Higgins of Northville; and Sydney Balan and Anthony Pierzynowski.
Valerie Haas of Inkster directs Disney’s “The Little Mermaid, Jr.,” with Paul Abbott of Livonia as music director, and Laura Tyler of Canton Township as choreographer.
The cast includes Madison Ganzak of Dearborn Heights as Ariel; Dearborn residents Gavin Deckert as Prince Eric, Andrew Brown as Grimsby, and Joey Garza as Sebastian; Jamie Paschke of Dearborn Heights as Flounder; and Nate Hermen of Dearborn Heights as King Triton.
The mer-sisters and six princesses include Dearborn residents Grace Crandall, Allison Koehler, Payton Schlaf, Olivia Sherman, Alia Elhajj, and Payton Schlaf. Also Dearborn residents Molly Boudreau as Ursula, Nora Dillon as Flotsam, and Christini Bertucci as Jetsam; and Kaitlin Birner of Dearborn Heights as Scuttle. The Gulls are Dearborn residents Stella Doverspike and Ella Hall, and Natalia Torres of Dearborn Heights. Cole Haas of Inkster plays Chef Louis. Also, Dearborn residents Ellie Morris as Carlotta; Ella Champoux as the Seahorse; and Claire Crandall, Chloe Doverspike, Jessica Koehler, Laura Manrique, Phoebe Morris, and Alexandra Slanec as the Tentacles and the Chefs. Playing the sailors, merfolk, and sea creatures are Dearborn residents Ava Assenmacher, Blake Deckert, Brady Deckert, Lara Elhajj, Matt Hermen, Clara Kanclerz, Justine Moore, and Lucy Morris.