WESTFIELD-Laughter brings people together, and comedian Rafi Gonzalez is hopeful his take on the city – and life in general – will be a catalyst for persons attending Comedy for a Cause.
Gonzalez, a 2004 graduate of Westfield High School, will be one of three comedians to take the stage on May 9 at Tin Bridge Brewing, 487 East Main St., for the spring fundraiser that will benefit the Westfield Foundation for Education (WFE).
“My comedy style is intended for everyone to enjoy,” said Gonzalez, adding “I write my material with the hopes that someone like my own mother can come to the show and not cringe at my subject matter.”
Gonzalez noted his family moved to Westfield from Puerto Rico when he was four. He attended Franklin Avenue and Highland elementary schools. He promises his segment will include Westfield humor.
“There are so many things I want to say about the ‘Whip City’ that would only make sense here in town,” he said.
Gonzalez, who routinely appears at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut and clubs in Boston, said the comedy show should run approximately 75 to 90 minutes and will also include Chicopee native Jeremy Goff and national touring headliner Marty Caproni.
“I try not to alienate anyone with the topics I speak about,” said Gonzalez, adding, “but it’s also fun to test the waters and make people laugh about things they wouldn’t usually think about laughing at.”
Laura Taylor, president of the all-volunteer, nonprofit WFE, is also hopeful that area residents will attend the fundraiser.
“We hope residents find it important to support this event as they’ll be supporting students in Westfield public schools,” said Taylor.
Taylor added that the WFE goal is to provide city students with “innovative learning opportunities” in mathematics, sciences, athletics and the humanities that extend beyond the resources of the City of Westfield.
“Each year we provide grant funds to teachers and community members for academic enrichment and project-based learning experiences that otherwise would not happen due to budget cuts and reduced state aid,” said Taylor. “We hope to grow each year to be able to reach more students.”
Taylor noted that since WFE began in 2013, more than $46,000 has been awarded for more than 50 grants. Programs have ranged from “I Am An Artist” at Juniper Park, “Empty Bowls Project” at Westfield High School, and a robotics team at South Middle School, to a collaboration between Munger Hill and Westfield Technical Academy for a garden project. Also, funding has supported an archery program at Westfield High School, “A Journey Through 350 Years of Westfield History” at Paper Mill Elementary, a sensory room at Fort Meadow Early Childhood Center, and a “Little Free Library” at Franklin Avenue Elementary.
“WFE has also funded the city-wide ‘It’s Band-tastic’ event in some capacity since 2015,” said Taylor. “All proceeds will go toward the next grant cycle for the 2018-2019 school year.”
Taylor has an enthusiastic committee who works behind the scenes that ensures the organization runs smoothly. Members include Lindsay Panis, vice president, Mary Zajdel, treasurer, and Dottie O’Neil, a retired Westfield public school educator.
“We’re always looking for more members and volunteers,” said Taylor.
Committee members are currently seeking out raffle prize donations and anyone who would like to contribute can contact Taylor at [email protected] to arrange for a pick up.
Tickets are $25 per person and will be available soon. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts promptly at 8 p.m. A cash bar will be available. The evening will also include a 50/50 raffle.
For updates on where to purchase tickets, visit WFE’s social media links including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or visit www.westfieldfoundation.org.
For Gonzalez, supporting this cause hits close to home.
“I’ve wanted to be a comedian as long as I can remember,” said Gonzalez. “With everything going on in the world now, it’s nice to provide a sort of ‘escape’ for people for comedy shows. Laughter brings people together, and I’m extremely happy to be able to provide it – especially raising funds for a great cause.”