Once Homeless Student Benefits from ‘A Taste for Learning’ Fundraiser

More than 800 people came together on September 15, to support education in our local community at A Taste for Learning. This international wine sampling and auction, was held at Rosen Shingle Creek to benefit both the Valencia Foundation and Orlando Health Foundation.

What makes this fundraising event unique is that 100 percent of all funds raised are given directly to student scholarships at Valencia and medical education at Orlando Health. The Valencia portion of the funds will be matched by a challenge grant, and proceeds for this year’s event totaled $290,000 (including the match).

“The numbers reflect the successful partnership between the two organizations, Valencia Foundation and Orlando Health Foundation, but also reflect the lives transformed for those receiving a scholarship at Valencia,” said Geraldine Gallagher, Foundation president.

Every dollar raised makes a difference in a student’s life, especially students like Edinson Aramburu, who traveled a long, challenging road to Valencia. Born and raised in Peru, education was considered a luxury for families like his – tuition was costly and low income families were denied access.

Edinson came to America in his early twenties, seeking the dream of a higher education, which he knew was the key to a better life. His first stop was Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and for months Edison struggled – he had no place to sleep, and could not speak English.

He found refuge in the safety of the public library, and worked diligently to learn English. Eventually, individuals at a local homeless shelter encouraged him to pursue his dream of becoming an elementary school teacher.

Inspired by this, Edinson found a mentor, secured a job washing dishes, and took the steps to begin expanding his opportunities. His pursuit was delayed for some time, however, when he had to return to Peru to support his mother.

In the summer of 2010, Edinson came to Valencia and resurrected his dream of a higher education. Since arriving here, he has been in the honors program and has maintained a 3.5 GPA. Almost finished with his associate degree, he plans to continue at the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

Of his dream and his journey, Edinson shares, “I hope that our present and future generations realize that education is the only way to be successful. I plan to teach not only basic education to my elementary students, but also that diligence to your dream will make it come true.”

In all, six Taste events have raised $2.26 million for student support and education. For this year’s tasting and auction, ABC Fine Wine and Spirits invited vendors from around the world to donate hundreds of bottles of their finest wines, and provided exceptional auction items.

For more information about the Valencia Foundation or to make a donation, please visit www.VALENCIA.org  or call (407)582-3150.

2 Comments

  • Lindi said:

    Edison was a student in our EAP program. We are so proud of him!

    PMWed, 24 Oct 2012 13:43:33 +0000Wed, 24 Oct 2012 13:43:33 +0000pm12,1:43 pm

  • Sarah said:

    Yes we are! Congratulations Edinson! Don't forget us!

    PMWed, 24 Oct 2012 14:39:14 +0000Wed, 24 Oct 2012 14:39:14 +0000pm12,2:39 pm

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