Zumba aficionados can “Dance for a Difference” this Saturday, March 11, and every Saturday through April 29, while raising money for nonprofit organizations.
Laura Sobel of Dobbs Ferry, a certified Zumba fitness instructor, will lead classes from 9:30-10:20 a.m. in the Fonseca Center at The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry. The class is for anyone at any level of fitness, who may pay what they wish. Proceeds, minus the studio rental and insurance fees, will be donated to charities.
Each class will benefit a different organization. The first class will donate to the Maggie Rose program at the Bereavement Center of Westchester, which provides free group and individual counseling services to women and families who experience perinatal loss. The Maggie Rose program is held at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco.
Another class will support the Hole in the Wall Gang camp in Ashford, Connecticut. Actor Paul Newman founded the free, medically supervised camp in 1988, for children with serious illnesses.
“It's a magical place that I've volunteered for often in person, and highly recommend everyone try to do at least once in their life,” Sobel told the Enterprise.
She’ll spend a few minutes of each class talking about the beneficiaries.
Sobel, 35, has taught Zumba in multiple locations since 2013, including private dance studios, gyms, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, White Plains Hospital, Andrus Children’s Center (for employees), and at events and fundraisers. She intended to hold the Zumba fundraiser in February 2020, but Covid-19 scuttled that plan.
As director of ancillary programs and volunteer services at White Plains Hospital, Sobel was inclined to choose a health-oriented activity as a fundraising vehicle. “Due to the nature of my work and my interest in philanthropy, I'm hoping to connect individuals to nonprofits or particular programs within them in the tri-state area that people may not be as familiar with,” she said.
Allowing people to pay what they wish also was important to her. “I wanted to give anyone the opportunity to dance without needing to commit to a particular gym or amount of money... and if someone chooses to pay for the class, I wanted it to go to a greater cause.”
Sobel was a member of the dance company at Masters. As a senior, in 2005, she co-chaired the student body's community service program, MISH (Masters Interested in Sharing and Helping). Sobel said she had taken seriously Masters’ mission, “to be a power for good in the world,” and that “it helped shape who I am, therefore I knew Masters would be in support of this idea.”
Starting in 2006 at Cornell University, she taught modern, jazz, and hip-hop group fitness classes and co-founded, with classmate Soojeong Son, BreakFree. The group, which holds free dance classes for the Cornell and Ithaca communities, is still in existence.
Sobel also has a deeper attachment to Masters. In 2001, as Laura Romeo, a day student who boarded in her senior year, she met her future husband, day student Peter Sobel of Dobbs Ferry. Laura was originally from Yonkers. In 2013, the former classmates were married at Estherwood, the 19th-century mansion on the school’s campus.
Peter Sobel is director of communications for The Children’s Village, the residential treatment center in Dobbs Ferry. The couple, parents of a 4-year-old, have lived in the village since 2016, and both have family members who either attended or worked at Masters.
For further information, contact Laura Sobel at firstname.lastname@example.org; 914-316-5341. Classes are in the Fonseca Center’s Sharon Room (2nd floor). Advance signup at bit.ly/3J9zlxs is encouraged, as class size is limited to 25. Walk-ins are welcome, but there is no guarantee of a space. On arrival, participants must sign a waiver; children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to sign the waiver. Participants must wear clean sneakers. Contributions can be paid in cash or via Venmo (@Laura-RomeoSobel) or Zelle (914-316-5341).
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