Groove With Me Is Creating
A Better Future In East Harlem
Editor in chief: Najaam Lee
Contributing Location Writer: Mitchell Acks
Groove With Me held their annual springtime benefit, Tap & Tapas at the 404 in New York on April 11th 2016.
An intimate gathering of performances by the girls of Tap & Tapas, delicious cuisine presented by 11 chefs around the city, with engaging talks and networking.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Samantha Merkle, director of Engagement and Outreach. Who was thrilled to see the progress of the organization and its future expansions with other companies and organizations. Samantha’s vast background of experience includes girls’ leadership and empowerment during her two year Peace Corps service in Santa Marta, Colombia, using the arts to reinforce Common Core standards as a teaching artist with LeAp, and working in the Public Relations department at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Tap & Tapas honoured Eboni Williams Esq. as a successful role model for young girls. She is currently the political and legal analysis on Fox News – New York.
Groove With Me would not be possible without the help by founder and executive director, Abigail Rosin McCreath. She used the money from her car accident in high school that derailed her dancing career just weeks before a large role in “Jesus Christ Superstar”, to offer dance classes at youth organizations.
She has taught workshops for other organizations including Free Arts for Abused Children, the Harlem Girls Collaborative and Sponsors for Educational Opportunities. Abigail also taught dance in an orphanage in Costa Rica.
Groove With Me is a non-profit organization established in 1996, providing free dance classes and performance opportunities so young women can dance to a positive future. For the creation of Groove With Me, Abigail received the Montblanc International Arts Award, the Ford Blue Oval Commitment to Kids Award, the Eckerd Salute to Women Award, the RCN Cool Classics Award, Glamour Best of You Award, The New York Winter Theater and Arts Festival Award, and the Harlequin More Than Words Award.
The organization now serves over 250 students with 37 free dance classes each week with a 90 percent re-enrollment rate and a 60 girl waiting list. They have 30 volunteer teachers. The school has two recitals a year, and give six outside performances each semester for groups that request the dancers.
Groove With ME only spends $1,200 per girl/ per year compared to private classes or school thanks to donations, of which 90% of the donations go directly to Groove With Me.
To understand how important Groove With Me is to the community is to understand the community at large. In East Harlem, NY, 38% of its residents live below poverty lines. Only 60% of girls in East Harlem graduate from High School. There are 8 local girl gangs in North Manhattan and 5 local girl gangs in East Harlem. To understand this further, East Harlem is the city-wide leader in births to Teenage mothers, with children suffering from asthma. Groove With Me is giving an opportunity to transform these young girls lives in a brighter way and a greater direction to uplift themselves. Groove With Me has transformed their dance school to a 3,500 square-foot studio with so many activities to bring into the community.
For more information or to donate please visit www.groovewithme.org
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