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'This is what we do' -- Many hands bring support for school

Joanna Horton McPherson

Joanna Horton McPherson

It’s one thing to live here as parents of young children; it’s another to help build resources for kids here. Nikki and John Ramagli are parents of two kids at the Sedona Village Learning Center preschool. Their young ones, Charlie and Emma, came from a childcare program in West Sedona in January 2021. The commute was a hardship, sometimes an hour each way. 

“This community is important to us,” says Nikki, a Sedona native and a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker. She and husband, Chef John Ramagli of Rotten Johnny’s Pizza in the Village of Oak Creek, do a lot to support the school. On June 13, they co-hosted a large event at Sedona Golf Resort to benefit the preschool. Chip Geter of Geter plumbing split the hosting role with the Ramaglis. 

Nikki, a board member on the preschool’s non-profit foundation, has helped put on events for the preschool in the past. “After the pandemic, we were all about bringing the community together,” says Nikki. “We are doing it to support the school but also to show the importance of young kids in the community. We want to do something for the next generation.” 

The event was held to raise money for the preschool’s scholarship fund. The fund supports families who require a subsidy in order to pay their tuition. About half of the families who attend the school have a scholarship. The event helps achieve the goal to ensure high-quality education is accessible to all regardless of their income.

This benefit was a “shotgun” golf tournament organized by Nikki and other board members. 120 golfers registered for the event with fun games at holes such as “Beat Your Friends” and “Splash-Cash.”  The day comprised three events in one, with the tournament, the silent auction, and finally a banquet lunch in the courtyard at the Collective.

The feast was made by Chef John there by the banquet line. He served Niman Ranch ribeye, Maine lobster tail, roasted potatoes, grilled organic vegetables and beverages. 

Auction prizes during the banquet included donations and certificates from local businesses like Village Yoga, Sedona Golf Resort, Katie Chorlton massage, Element Hotel, Adobe Hacienda, Snap Fitness, Free Hearts Eco-friendly Wear, art, sculptures, Bell Rock Vet pet packages, spa kits, watches, wine, art and more. 

During the event, one attendee commented that he himself has run many golf tournaments and has never experienced such good organization and outstanding food.

Another player won a bid on a $3,500 package to Argentina. After the event, he wrote, “We had a fantastic time at the tournament today. It was the best menu and execution at a golf tournament that I have ever been to - and trust me there have been quite a few. You and your team are fantastic people as well. We’re so excited for this opportunity again next year.”

“The thing that was overwhelming is the support,” says Nikki who heads the preschool board’s marketing committee. So many volunteers helped to make this event happen with so much success - from coordinating the auction items and bidding, to the registration, set-up, and helping with the games. “There are many people to thank.”

“We had so many people come out - from volunteers to participants and people who sent donations. It’s neat to see the community involvement and see people step up.” Nikki herself coordinated many of the details. “It took a lot of people to pull this off. It was fun facilitating the event, with [fellow board member] Jan Groves keeping things organized.”

“Plus,” Chef John adds, “We were almost full. We will get people’s registration early next year.” During the event, people were already talking about the next golf tournament banquet & benefit. “This was great,” one local said as he was leaving. “I can’t wait for next year.” Another attendee even requested it be held sooner than a year from now.

“It’s nice that so many people are on board with what we are doing,” Nikki says. “The awareness factor for people is huge - many folks didn’t know about the preschool. It’s such an amazing program and we need it. It’s so important to have this school here, and this fundraising support really helps.”

As a parent, Nikki particularly appreciates what the event will do to help the program serve families. “The preschool has taught my kids more than I could hope for or imagine in the past 6 months,” she says. “They wake up everyday asking to go. They know that ‘school, learning and being good is their job’ just like Dad and Mom’s job. As a parent it is comforting dropping your kids off in the morning and knowing that they are in the best possible hands.”

Of the hard work and planning it took to make the event work, Chef John says, ““This is what we do. We are here to help make a difference.” 

The hard work paid off. Between the silent auction items, the golf games and registration fees, the event raised over $20,000 for the Sedona Village Learning Center.

This ensures scholarships through the end of 2021. The generosity of the Ramaglis, Geters and all the donors is a powerful statement to the value our community places on being sure good education is here to stay.

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