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Far and Wise Supporters Students with the Help of Adele
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Sunday, August 20, 2023
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Devan Perez could easily be the poster child for the revamped Far + Wise organization.

He has become wise since becoming one of the first I Have a Dream Foundation-Idaho scholars 10 years ago, establishing a 4.0 grade point average at Wood River High School. And on Friday he flew out of SUN Airport headed to Vermont where he will begin his first year at Middlebury College.

“It wouldn’t be possible without this program,” Perez told more than 200 supporters as he praised the tutoring and cultural enrichment he received from third- through 12th grades. “I liked how we were involved with the community and how much I learned to like giving back.”

Far + Wise organization wants to turn more under-resourced kids like Perez beyond the realm of what their might have believed imaginable. And those who turned out for the organization’s Black Tie & Blue Jeans fundraising dinner at The Argyros this week were happy to get behind their mission.

They ponied up $8,000 for a ski package, egged on by Muffy Ritz who had promised Nordic lesson as part of the package. Two bidding parties bid $10,000 each on dinners for 10 prepared by private chef Andrew Dunning with the help of Marie Gallo, star of Eye on Sun Valley’s “Marie’s Kitchen.”

Two more parties each bid $10,000 each on a dinners for 12 prepared by Salted Sprig at the home of Lisa and Perry Boyle. And 22 pledged $500 each—or $11,000—for a dinner and cooking demo prepared by Far + Wise alum Eduardo Escalera, who is finishing up a year’s training at the Sun Valley Culinary Institute.

All this was topped by the piece de resistance—a concert featuring Adele at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas that went for $16,000.

But the evening wasn’t over as a very animated auctioneer from Seattle led the crowd in Paddle Up pledges of $75,000, $50,000, $25,000 and more.

“A pledge of a thousand dollars is $1 a day for only a thousand days,” he shrugged. “Seriously, the generosity in this valley is something to behold. You set a standard by which I measure every other auction.”

Far + Wise Executive Director Laura Lewis told the crowd that her organization had rebranded itself Far + Wise after becoming an independent nonprofit so it could be most responsive to local needs, rather than following the protocol of the national I Have a Dream Foundation. Among its new initiatives: Trade Camps that it offered this summer to catch the fancy of students who might not want to go to college.

“We want our kids to go deep and wide and develop wisdom,” she said.

Board Chairman Brent Robinson said he had seen how the organization changes life first hand as he watched the organization provide 45 third-graders at Alturas Elementary with tutoring and cultural enrichment opportunities in hopes of seeing all of them graduate from high school.

“I thought this was pie in the sky—and it was a more difficult group,” he said.

When graduation time came, all but one of the students were ready to don their mortarboards. The lone holdout was very bright but had experienced every challenge a high school student could have, Robinson said.

“But, with the help of tutors and mentors we got it done, although it was not easy. And that young person’s life was changed. Thank you for opening doors and changing lives.”

Lewis noted that low literacy results in billions of dollars in non-productivity in the workforce and tends to be a factor in the lives of state prison inmates. Far + Wise helps to beak the poverty cycle by identifying kids who are at risk for not graduating from high school and providing opportunities for them, she said.

“We want them to seek, learn, soar,” she added.

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