Ella Borello combined her love for music and dogs to treat her an audience with a toe-tapping rock concert at Rose Hill Music in Thornwood last Friday evening.
Her efforts were more than just a good time for herself, fans of her group, the Darn Good Monkey Band, or her band mates, which happen to be her brother William and sister Keira.
She will help to change a couple of lives as well.
As part of her eighth-grade Community Leadership Project at Westlake Middle School, Borello raised about $1,500 for Golden Re-Triever Rescue, Inc., a New Jersey-based nonprofit which rescues Golden Retrievers from Turkey. Locally, the dogs are matched with adopted families with the help of Golden Re-Triever Rescue volunteer and Mount Pleasant resident Eileen McFadden.
“I really love dogs and I love playing music and it was a great way to put something together and it was a great project,” Borello said. “It was just a great experience.”
The plan was to raise about $800, the cost of bringing over one dog from Turkey, McFadden said. There is also a $750 to get a dog through customs. The family who is adopting the dog pays about $800, she said.
The five-year-old female that Borello’s concert raised money for has already been matched with a family and is scheduled to land at Kennedy Airport on May 30, McFadden said. McFadden said Borello has named the dog Hope.
Overwhelmed shelters in Instanbul and a culture where it’s routine for dogs to roam the streets have caused problems. Golden Re-Triever Rescue estimates that there are more than 150,000 homeless dogs in Turkey.
“They do spay and neuter them in Turkey,” McFadden said. “They tag their ears with a cattle tag and they put them back out onto the street. They don’t put them in shelters because there are too many.”
The concert, with Borello on drums, Keira, 10, on guitar and William, 9, on bass, featured a dozen songs over the nearly hour-long concert at Rose Hill Music’s 70-seat performance space. Their selections ranged from “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty, “Rock ‘n’ Roll All Nite” by Kiss and several songs by the group Weezer. Ella was the lead vocalist.
Borello, who has attended music lessons with her siblings at Rose Hill for the past year and also takes classes at School of Rock, said she usually performs with friends but this was a great experience.
“That was amazing,” she said. “It’s different then to have a band with your friends, but it’s different to be with our family, it’s a different appreciation when you’re together.”
The event, which included a bake sale, raffle, 50/50 drawing and donations, was so successful that nearly twice as much was raised as anticipated, which will pave the way for a second adoption, McFadden said.
The idea for the concert came about after McFadden’s husband, Drew, was one of a group of representatives from various local organizations at Westlake Middle School to talk to the eight-graders about volunteer and community service opportunities. He wore two hats that day – one for Golden Re-Triever Rescue and the other for the American Legion, which he is active with in Thornwood.
County Legislator Margaret Cunzio presented Ella, Keira and William with county proclamations while Eileen McFadden presented the trio with flowers before their final two songs.
“You’re changing the lives of these dogs one dog at a time and I want to recognize that,” Cunzio said. “I think it’s very important.”
Their mom, Katie, said preparing for the concert – the crowd gave them a standing ovation – and the project was an outstanding experience.
“I love it,” she said. “It keeps them close together. I don’t know how long that lasts but for now it’s great.”