By John Lynds
There will be a lot to celebrate on Saturday as Piers Park Sailing Center staff and sailors relaunch the sailing center’s fleet and hold a grand reopening.
Following a harrowing community effort to raise enough funds to keep the cash strapped PPSC from sinking into the abyss, PPSC’s board announced this month it had raised enough money to keep the sailing center going for another season. The board also appointed a new Executive Director and Director of Operations to lead PPSC into the future.
“We are incredibly excited to announce the Re-Opening Celebration for Piers Park Sailing Center this Saturday, April 29 from 12 to 7 p.m. at Piers Park,” said Executive Director Alex DeFronzo. “After overcoming a difficult winter we are looking forward to kicking off our season and getting back to teaching kids, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, and the members of our local community how to sail on the beautiful East Boston Waterfront.”
The sailing center’s Director of Operations added, “Over the past several weeks a dedicated team of volunteers have committed countless hours to prepare the boats for launch, and because of the support of the Eastie Community we are kicking of the season with more involvement and engagement than ever at this time of year.”
Just a few weeks ago, it was unclear if PPSC would be reopening for the 2017 season and it was reported that the sailing center an into financial difficulties at the end of last season when a large grant they were counting on did not materialize. The sailing center found itself with no money in the bank, and a maxed out line of credit. The Board of Directors personally–out of their own pockets–covered staff salaries for the last month to keep the center open and finish out the season. They also paid personally for crane services and wrapping supplies to winterize the boats.
Since ending operations last November, PPSC has been supported by volunteer efforts alone.
However, the thought of losing PPSC, a place that since 1997 has provided free sailing for inner city children living in East Boston who otherwise would never get the chance to acquire the invaluable skill, mobilized the community. An outpouring of support from former students and instructors of the program, local elected officials, and families of Eastie all pitched in for the effort to keep the sailing center going.
PPSC was granted $12,500 from the East Boston Foundation, with the potential for another $12,500 in matching funds. The PPSC community stepped up and triggered the $12,500 match by meeting the goal at a March 20th fundraiser at the Maverick Marketplace Café.
Then, on March 21, it became clear that the Sailing Center would re-open when PierPac unanimously voted to provide a $25,000 grant to PPSC and asked Massport to match an additional $25,000.
“While we are still working hard to ensure the sustainability of the Piers Park Sailing Center, we are in a much better position than we were only a few months ago,” said board member, Mary Cole.
The PPSC reopening celebration will start at 12 p.m. Saturday, April 29.
“We will invite participants in the Boston Shines Neighborhood Clean-Up to join us for refreshments at the PPSC tent,” said Cole. “At 3 p.m. we will have a re-opening ribbon cutting event and launching of the fleet, and from 4 p.m.- 7 p.m. members of the community are invited to join us for free sailboat rides in Boston Harbor.”
PPSC set to launch its fleet and hold a ‘Grand Reopening’ on Saturday at Piers Park.