The Williamston Performing Arts Foundation supports students through community events

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The logo of the Williamston Performing Arts Foundation shows icons to represent the different aspects of performing arts supported by the foundation. Graphic: Williamston Performing Arts Foundation.

The Williamston Performing Arts Foundation announced a full slate of events this spring, just months after it started.

An Evening of Jazz, hosted by Williamston Bands at Williamston High School, will take place March 20 at 7 p.m. and is open to the public. This event is free, said Laura Torongeau, the president of the WPAF.

The foundation is working with businesses, which are helping to support their cause, said Torongeau. Some businesses are donating items for a silent auction at the Evening of Jazz, while others are donating time and creative services.

Also, the foundation has the ‘Feel Good’ tap for a fundraiser at the Old Nation Brewing Company in Williamston for the remainder of the month.

The foundation’s story

The WPAF, founded by Deanna Stampfly, Torongeau and Carolyn McLaughlin, began as an idea several years ago. It was formalized a year and a half ago after the paperwork was filled out, and then approved in October 2019.

Torongeau and Stampfly, the vice president of the foundation, work full-time jobs in addition to their involvement with this foundation, which can be up to 40 additional hours in a week.

Torongeau got involved in the foundation after serving as a band booster for Williamston schools where her two children are active in performing arts programs. 

Torongeau said she noticed many students involved in more than one performing arts activity. She decided that a foundation to support choir, band, theater and dance would be useful to the community. Torongeau wrote in an email that the purpose of the Williamston Performing Arts Foundation is “to support current or previous Williamston Community School students’ pursuit of excellence and healthy expression in the performing arts.”

The Williamston High School Band plays in the stands during home football games. Photo: Lisa Szymecko.

Torongeau said she thinks that it’s fun to watch kids grow. She said that performing arts programs foster an environment where all kids are welcomed. She also said that it “enriches their lives so much to be able to be a part of the arts, and it helps that creative piece of their life to give them a purpose.”

Stampfly also has children who were involved in band, choir and theater. In an email, Stampfly wrote that her favorite part of being involved with the Williamston Performing Arts Foundation is that “It feels like we’re on the cusp of making a difference in the lives of kids . . . I think the possibility of being a real help where there’s a need is really exciting to me.”

The Williamston Performing Arts Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3), hopes to get its raffle license approved at the Williamston City Council meeting on Monday. Getting its raffle license approved would allow them to participate in and host additional fundraising opportunities. 

After the last Williamston City Council meeting, City Manager Corey Schmidt said the foundation should get its raffle license, as long as all necessary information is provided. The City Council usually has approved these types of requests, said Schmidt. He referred to the raffle license as a “fairly routine piece of legislation.”

Community Benefits

Torongeau said the foundation puts on family-orientated events that benefit the community because it puts emphasis on the fine arts and on supporting students in the community.

Torongeau said if members of the community want to help the foundation, they can do so by volunteering to help at and attending events. Community members can also follow the foundation’s Facebook page.

This image shows upcoming events for the Williamston Performing Arts Foundation. Graphic created by Sophia Lada using Piktochart.

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